A former Monongahela police officer has been charged by the state attorney general’s office with making unwanted sexual advances to a woman while he was on duty last year.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced charges Wednesday against Dustin DeVault, 47, of Monongahela, indicating the officer took advantage of a woman in her early 20s who trusted him because of his position.
DeVault first encountered the victim during the summer of 2018 during a traffic stop he initiated in Union Township, Shapiro stated in a news release. She said he stopped her car on Route 88 because it had a burned-out taillight and no citation was issued to her.
The victim said she met with DeVault and exchanged text messages several times after the traffic stop with the understanding he was going to help her become a police officer. She also believed he would help her seek treatment for a loved one who was suffering from a drug addiction, Shapiro stated.
DeVault was accused of inappropriately touching the woman and asking her to have sex with him while he was in uniform, carrying a gun and driving an unmarked police cruiser during a meeting June 29, 2018.
“The victim turned to the defendant because he was a member of law enforcement and someone she should have been able to trust,” Shapiro said.
The victim testified before a statewide grand jury.
“When you are in that situation, you just freeze,” she said during testimony. “You don’t know what to do. He has a gun on him. He is a police officer. I just wanted to survive that moment.”
The victim said DeVault asked to meet with her at the Finleyville police substation a few days after the traffic stop to further discuss the police academy, according to the grand jury presentment.
She said he showed her police files and how his computer worked and that she believed he was showing her privileged information, the presentment indicates.
She also testified that she revealed to him at the substation or during the traffic stop that she was a lesbian.
They eventually agreed to meet again shortly after midnight June 29, 2018, in Finleyville, where they drove around in his cruiser, exchanged “small talk” and eventually stopped in a parking lot beside soccer fields and got out of the vehicle, the record shows.
She testified he bear-hugged her from behind, and said, “You don’t know what you do to me.” She said she moved away and froze and they got back into his vehicle, where he groped and force-kissed her, she claimed before the grand jury.
She also accused DeVault of begging her for sex and that she said no.
She said DeVault conducted another traffic stop before he took her to her vehicle, and that she recorded him to prove that they were together that night.
Monongahela police chief Kevin Harris testified before the grand jury June 13, saying DeVault admitted to making a mistake by allowing a female inside an unmarked car to help him identify a drug shipment.
The grand jury also found DeVault allegedly lied to his superiors about his involvement with the victim and also encouraged a co-worker to lie to protect him.
The co-worker, David Marghella, told Harris he had received a call from DeVault asking him to lie and say they didn’t initiate a traffic stop with the victim, that her car was already stopped.
Marghella allegedly admitted before the grand jury in February that a “quiet stop” had been initiated with the victim, meaning it was performed without the knowledge of Washington County 911 dispatch center or other officers on duty. He said such stops violate department policy on protecting the safety of police officers.
Monongahela eventually fired DeVault, who has since taken a job as a part-time officer in nearby Forward Township and with Highmark, Shapiro said. Harris said Marghella was no longer employed by the city police department.
Harris said Monongahela was working closely with Shapiro’s office on the case.
“The city of Monongahela and my office take the charges of this alleged heinous act very seriously,” Harris stated Wednesday in a new release.
He said DeVault was hired as a Monongahela police officer Nov. 18, 2014, and removed from the department Jan. 29.
A Forward Township secretary said the township’s police chief was on vacation Wednesday, and that it was unclear whether or not DeVault was still employed there.
Monongahela solicitor Todd Pappasergi of Charleroi said he was unable to comment on an ongoing investigation.
DeVault faces charges of indecent assault, official oppression and obstructing the administration of law or other governmental function. He will receive the charges in a summons from District Judge Jesse Pettit. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Oct. 2.
Online court records do not indicate he has hired an attorney to represent him in the case.