- Associated Press - Thursday, December 15, 2016

SYCAMORE, Ill. (AP) - A former Northern Illinois University police officer accused of raping a student in 2011 was found not guilty Thursday, a case that cost both the officer and the police chief their jobs.

A jury acquitted Andrew Rifkin, 28, five years after he was fired from his job over the incident, The (DeKalb) Daily Chronicle reported (https://bit.ly/2hCFG5W ).

Defense attorney Bruce Brandwein said in his closing argument that Rifkin was rightfully fired from the university for having a relationship with a student, but he was not guilty of a crime.

Brandwein said the woman only decided to report the incident two weeks after it occurred because she was upset after seeing Rifkin with other students and because he wouldn’t respond to her text messages.

“My client hurt the feelings of this young lady,” Brandwein said. “This young lady was hurt. She made it clear to her two roommates that she was dating a police officer. She was happy. He didn’t feel the same way she felt. Realizing he was going to lose his job if he got caught, he cut it off.”

A judge ruled in 2013 that university police intentionally concealed two witness statements that could have helped Rifkin’s defense. The jury was told of the police misconduct during the trial.

Assistant State’s Attorney Stephanie Klein acknowledged the flawed police investigation.

“Ordinarily, at this point in the case, when I get to stand up and give my closing arguments, I get to talk to the jury about how, no matter what the verdict ends up being, we as citizens of DeKalb County can be proud of the good work the police officers did in the investigation. I cannot say that in this case,” she said in her closing statement.

Former university Police Chief Donald Grady was placed on leave over his department’s handling of the incident and eventually fired. Grady had been praised for the department’s actions after Feb. 14, 2008, shootings on the campus that left five students and the gunman dead. He was one of the first officers to enter a lecture hall where the shootings occurred, and survivors praised him for his bravery.

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Information from: The Daily Chronicle, https://www.daily-chronicle.com

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