TAMPA — A fired Tampa police officer is facing a charge of sexual battery after investigators found he touched a woman inappropriately during a Feb. 1 traffic stop.
Adam York, 42, turned himself in just before 9 a.m. Thursday at the Orient Road Jail. He was released 30 minutes later on $15,000 bail. York was a 13-year veteran of the department when authorities say the sexual battery occurred.
“This is a shock to us,” Tampa police Chief Eric Ward said at a news conference. “It’s something that is hard to believe.”
The incident was initially reported to another police agency because the woman involved did not know the department the officer worked for or where the traffic stop happened, Ward said.
Investigators later determined York stopped the woman for speeding before dawn on a Monday as he headed to work from his home in Clearwater. The woman, whom Ward said was in her 20s, pulled into a parking lot near WestShore Plaza at Kennedy Boulevard and West Shore Boulevard. A surveillance camera from the plaza captured grainy images of a police cruiser with emergency lights flashing.
During the stop, York told the woman to pull down her pants and underwear, according to an arrest report. After she did so, the officer touched her inappropriately, according to the report.
After York let her drive away, the woman went to a nearby hospital where she reported what had happened, according to a Tampa police disciplinary notice in York’s personnel file.
The stop occurred the Monday after the city’s annual Gasparilla parade, which brought law enforcement officers from several agencies to Tampa, Ward said.
“It was hard for us to determine initially exactly which agency was involved,” Ward said. “So it took a lot of work to point back to us.”
Police interviewed York about the allegations a week later, on Feb. 8. He admitted that he had stopped the woman but denied any inappropriate conduct, Ward said. No other video of the incident was recorded.
On Feb. 25, police received results of a forensic examination from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
York’s DNA was found inside the woman’s underwear, according to an arrest report. The report indicated that DNA was “touch DNA,” which refers to a testing method that analyzes skin cells left behind when a person makes physical contact with an object.
On March 4, York was fired from the department.
“A month after we started this investigation, I knew enough about the case,” Ward said.
Asked why the department waited five months to publicly announce the officer’s firing, Ward cited the investigation’s complexity and said the department wanted to wait until the State Attorney’s Office filed charges.
“We wanted to make sure that they would move forward with the prosecution,” Ward said. “This isn’t an easy case to prosecute. It’s very complex, there’s a lot of details involved, so we need to make sure that all the ducks were in a row, so to speak, and the state attorney was on board.”
York did not return a message seeking comment. A woman who answered the door at a Clearwater address where he is listed as living declined to comment or say how she knows York.
Neighbors at another home where York is listed say he lives there with his wife and two young children. He is well-known and liked in the neighborhood.
“You couldn’t ask for a better neighbor,” said Ray Kalmbach, who lives across the street. “You couldn’t ask for a better friend. He’s a great father and great husband as far as I’m aware.
“This stuns me, it shocks me and I’m in 100 percent disbelief,” Kalmbach said. “Let’s let all the evidence come in before we ruin a man’s life, a man’s family.”
York’s attorney, Rick Escobar, declined to speak in detail about the case, but said he believes the evidence will be favorable to his client’s defense.
“These are allegations and merely allegations,” Escobar said. “Clearly, you can tell this is not an easy case for the prosecution.”
City payroll records show York worked as an officer in Tampa police District 3, which covers east Tampa, Ybor City and downtown. He started working with Tampa police in July 2003 and made $81,536 a year.
His department personnel file shows that in the last few years, he had patrolled the downtown area, developing relationships with homeless people and local businesses. His only prior blemish with the agency was in 2006 for missing a court hearing.
Before joining the Tampa police, York worked three years as an officer in Pinellas Park, state records show. Records with that agency reflect no misconduct. Before that, he worked for the police department in South Bend, Ind., his hometown.
York is the latest in a string of Tampa police officers and employees fired for alleged misconduct in recent years. They included a husband and wife who are accused in a federal tax fraud scheme, a school resource officer who had a sexual relationship with a teen girl and an officer who was found to have lied about his involvement in an off-duty traffic crash.
“This investigation is a shock and disappointment to all of us at TPD,” Ward said. “We hold officers to very high standards and those who fail to meet those standards are dealt with seriously.”