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Ex-cop faces hearing on sex-abuse charges

Tyrone Wiggins is undoubtedly familiar with the inside of the Criminal Justice Center. During his 23 years as a Philadelphia police officer, Wiggins likely made numerous court appearances as one of the good guys, on the side of the law.

by By DAVID GAMBACORTA, <a href="mailto:gambacd@phillynews.com">gambacd@phillynews.com</a> 215-854-5994
Published 
Jan. 14, 2010

Tyrone Wiggins is undoubtedly familiar with the inside of the Criminal Justice Center.

During his 23 years as a Philadelphia police officer, Wiggins likely made numerous court appearances as one of the good guys, on the side of the law.

He'll enter the same building today for a preliminary hearing, but with a decidely different role - that of a disgraced former cop who's accused of sexually and physically abusing a young girl over the course of eight years.

Wiggins, 50, was arrested on Nov. 19, a day after he retired, and two years after the police Internal Affairs Bureau began investigating the claims of a young woman who said Wiggins started raping her in 1997, when she was 12.

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The arrest was never made public until the Daily News reported on the case last month.

The Police Department's perceived silence on the case outraged elected officials, average citizens and Wiggins' former brothers and sisters in blue.

City Councilwoman Marian Tasco was among those who lambasted police officials for not notifying the Recreation Department of Wiggins' arrest.

An eighth-degree black belt, Wiggins gave weekly karate lessons at the Olney Recreation Center, where he met his alleged victim when she was 10.

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Recreation Department Commissioner Sue Slawson said she was unaware of his arrest until a Daily News reporter informed her last month; Wiggins last gave a lesson at the center on Dec. 14, although his class included no children.

Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey described the failure to disclose the arrest as "an oversight," and said even he was unaware that Wiggins volunteered at the rec center.

Tasco, whose 9th Councilmanic District includes the Olney Rec Center, sent a charged letter to Ramsey and demanded a more detailed explanation of the investigation and the department's lack of disclosure about the case.

A spokeswoman for Tasco said Ramsey sent a lengthy, detailed response that did not address all of the councilwoman's concerns.

Tasco, who could not be reached for comment, wants to meet with Ramsey in person to further discuss the case.

Concerns were also raised about whether Wiggins' abrupt retirement was designed to protect his pension benefits.

James Kidwell, the deputy director of the city's Board of Pensions and Retirement, noted that the city's code would allow Wiggins to keep his pension, even if he is convicted of the charges he faces - rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and statutory sexual assault.

Chapter 22-1300 of the code states that a city employee could lose retirement benefits only if he or she pleads or is found guilty of perjury; accepting or offering a bribe; engaging in graft or corruption; theft, embezzlement or willful misapplication of city funds; malfeasance in office or engaging in conspiracy to commit any of the above.

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Published 
Jan. 14, 2010
BD
By DAVID GAMBACORTA, <a href="mailto:gambacd@phillynews.com">gambacd@phillynews.com</a> 215-854-5994
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