Tyrone Wiggins, a former Philadelphia cop who survived a bullet in the line of duty and won numerous awards during a 23-year career, was convicted yesterday of sexually assaulting a woman for more than eight years - starting when she was just 12.
The prison-bound married father of four was expressionless as the jury foreman announced that he was guilty of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, statutory sexual assault and corruption of a minor.
Wiggins, 51, was found not guilty of raping a person under the age of 13, possibly because the jury could not pinpoint if the rapes began that early, said Assistant District Attorney Mark Cipolletti, who prosecuted the case.
Common Pleas Judge Sandy L.V. Byrd revoked Wiggins' bail and ordered him jailed until sentencing on March 25.
Wiggins, who testified over two days that he did nothing wrong, faces a maximum sentence of 22 1/2 to 45 years in prison, Cipolletti said.
Wiggins resigned from the police force the day before he was arrested in November 2009, which capped a two-year Internal Affairs investigation into the woman's allegations.
The woman - now a 25-year-old Philadelphia police officer - tearfully testified that she met Wiggins at age 10, when she began taking karate lessons from him at the Olney Recreation Center.
She told the jury that Wiggins, a master teacher known as a "sensei," began raping her at age 12 and did not stop until she was a young adult.
He began beating her during the end of the sordid relationship, the woman said.
"Anyone that is a potential victim out there, come forward. There is hope and there is someone who will believe you," the woman told reporters shortly after the verdict was read.
The Daily News is not publishing her name because of the nature of the crimes.
"He abused the trust of the badge," Cipolletti said. "He abused and betrayed his fellow officers and, most importantly, he groomed a girl from a very young age and betrayed her trust. Now, finally, he is being punished for what he did."
The woman came forward and told authorities what Wiggins had done, Cipolletti said, after she came to terms with what had happened, and received encouragement from family and friends.
Wiggins deserves a prison sentence far less than the maximum based on his long, successful police career, which included being shot in 1994, defense attorney Scott Sigman said.
He argued that Wiggins was only a mentor and godfather to the woman, and trained her in karate to the point that she became a champion black belt and was inducted into the sport's hall of fame.
She turned on him, Sigman told the jury, when her application to become a cop was put on hold after Wiggins told recruitment officials that she had once sold drugs.
The woman denied the drug-dealing claim, and Cipolletti said that Wiggins invented the tale as a means to keep control over her.
"We're naturally disappointed because we thought for certain the jury would follow the instructions of the judge and come back with a verdict of not guilty," said Pastor Benjamin Green, of Abiding Truth Ministries, the West Philadelphia church that Wiggins attends with his wife of 24 years.
A decision on whether Wiggins' convictions will result in the forfeiture of his police pension will be made by the city pension board after the city Law Department provides the board with an opinion, said Francis Bielli, executive director of the Philadelphia Board of Pensions and Retirement.