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Sexual battery charge against Tampa cop dropped

Former Tampa police officer Adam York, left, is comforted by his wife Lisa during a news conference at his attorney’s Tampa office Tuesday. The State Attorney’s office has dropped a sexual assault charge against York that stemmed from a straffic stop in 2016. [JAMES BORCHUK | Times]
Published Nov. 14, 2018

Hillsborough County prosecutors on Tuesday dropped a sexual battery charge against a Tampa police officer accused of inappropriately touching a woman he pulled over in a traffic stop in 2016.

Adam York's lawyer demanded that the former officer get his job back with back pay during a news conference later Tuesday afternoon.

"My life is surrounded by carnage. Absolute carnage," said York, 45, who was fired in March 2016 after the woman accused him of sexually assaulting her. "This is never going away. This is the rest of my life."

Standing with his wife, Lisa, York said his family was "destitute" and he has been working for a friend's construction company to bring in some money.

His attorney, Rick Escobar, said the Tampa Police Department botched the investigation against his client.

"They did an absolutely atrocious job," Escobar said.

The Police Department issued a statement shortly after the news conference saying that State Attorney Andrew Warren's decision not to pursue a criminal charge wouldn't change the department's judgment.

"We stand by our decision," said police Chief Brian Dugan in a statement. "I hope the comments made by Adam York's attorney today don't have a chilling effect on victims of sexual assault and cause them to be reluctant to come forward

The woman said she was driving to a friend's house when York pulled her over at WestShore Plaza before dawn on Feb. 1, 2016. She later accused him of inappropriately touching her in a complaint to the Police Department.

Escobar suggested that York's DNA, which was found on part of the women's underwear, had been put there by the woman using the driver's license that she had handed to him during the traffic stop.

York had handled the traffic stop correctly and showed the woman, who said the father of her daughter was a paramedic for Tarpon Springs, a professional courtesy by not giving her a speeding ticket, Escobar said.

"There's a saying: 'No good deed goes unpunished," the lawyer said. "Boy, is that true in this case."

Tampa police didn't interview key witnesses or follow up on other evidence that would have exonerated York, Escobar said. Nor did they interview DNA experts, who he said could have explained how York's DNA may have been manipulated by the woman.

"There is no question in my mind that this was a total setup," Escobar said at a news conference at his W Kennedy Boulevard law offices.

The woman has never been publicly identified after she made her report of sexual battery so the newspaper couldn't reach out to her for comment.

Escobar appealed to Mayor Bob Buckhorn to make things right by York. He said he hoped York wouldn't be forced to file a civil lawsuit against the city to get justice.

"In our system of justice, politics has no role," he said.

Buckhorn didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Estella Gray, spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County State Attorney's office, said prosecutors had decided not to pursue the charge against York on Friday. The office didn't release further explanation.

After the woman's claims surfaced, a Tampa Police Department investigation found sufficient cause to terminate York, who had worked for the department since July 2003 and earned $81,536 at the time of his dismissal.

A visibly emotional York said the accusations demolished his family.

"It's destroyed it," he said. " We have nothing left. They've taken everything from me. They've taken my kids' college."

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