Boynton Beach City Commissioners on Tuesday approved an$875,000 settlement in the civil case a Wellington woman filed against the city after she accused a police officer of rape.
The civil justice system accomplished what the criminal justice system did not, the woman’s civil attorney Jack Scarola said in a statement.
“While the book will never be entirely closed on the horror suffered by the victim of Stephen Maiorino, the acknowledgement by the City of Boynton Beach of her victimization will finally allow her to open a new healing chapter,” the statement read.
Former Boynton Beach officer Maiorino was arrested on Oct. 30, 2014, on two counts of armed sexual battery by a law-enforcement officer, armed kidnapping and unlawful compensation or reward for official behavior while armed. Maiorino was put on administrative leave following his arrest, then he resigned from the department.
A jury found him not guilty of those charges in October.
The woman’s criminal attorney, Ian Goldstein, said in a statement he and his client are “pleased that the city has spoken to the issue and sent a clear message that this type of behavior, particularly on the part of law enforcement officers, will not go unanswered.”
The settlement was negotiated by the city’s insurance carrier and has no “direct fiscal impact” on the city because the carrier will reimburse Boynton, according to city documents. However, some commissioners questioned what the city’s insurance rates will be changed to after this.
Also, as part of the settlement, the city released a statement Tuesday night.
“The city stands behind its police department’s investigation of this matter, which resulted in Maiorino’s arrest and prosecution,” the statement read. “The city sincerely hopes this settlement will allow (the woman) to move on with her life.”
During the criminal trial, attorneys said the woman was stranded Oct. 15, 2014, after police arrested a friend and impounded his car.
Maiorino offered her a ride back to the department but took her to a secluded area near Interstate 95. The woman told police Maiorino raped her at gunpoint. Police later recovered a used condom, a condom wrapper and other items with DNA evidence that linked the two.
Maiorino’s lawyer, Michael Salnick, said it was a consensual encounter.
In the civil complaint, Scarola said Maiorino’s actions were “the product of Boynton Beach Police Department policies, procedures, customs and practices of condoning unlawful and improper acts by their employees and officers.”
While it was an unanimous vote Tuesday, all commissioners commented on the settlement. Commissioner Mack McCray said the amount was “kind of hard to swallow” but also mentioned that the woman was originally asking for $2 million.
Commissioner Mike Fitzpatrick mentioned an interview he did with a news organization when the criminal charges were announced and recalled that he commended the chief for investigating the complaint in a timely matter. But, he said he’s regretted that at the time he didn’t acknowledge the emotional pain of the woman.
On Tuesday he did, and said with strengthened procedures in place, “I believe this will never happen again in Boynton Beach.”