A federal judge postponed the civil-rights trial of a Philadelphia police officer accused of sexually assaulting a man in his police cruiser until June 25, because the officer, a reservist, is away on military leave.
Officer Michael Paige was supposed to go to trial today to answer to claims that he violated James Harris' civil rights by forcing the North Philadelphia man to repeatedly perform oral sex on him in March 2007, while the officer was on duty and in his police cruiser in Fairmount Park.
Last Wednesday, Paige's attorney Brian Puricelli filed a motion to recuse U.S. District Court Judge Robert F. Kelly, arguing that the judge is biased against Paige. Puricelli complained in his motion that Kelly has characterized Paige's activity as shocking and also ordered him to jail for failing to pay sanctions for noncompliance with an earlier order.
Paige was arrested and fired from the police department in 2007 after internal-affairs detectives sustained Harris' claims of sexual assault. But Paige successfully fought for reinstatement after a city judge acquitted him of criminal charges, deeming the sexual activity consensual. The married Paige didn't take the stand during his criminal trial and since has denied any sexual interaction with Harris, despite DNA evidence proving sexual activity occurred. He now works as a patrolman in West Philly.