LINCOLN — A former Lincoln police officer who left the force last month has been arrested and accused of coercing an emotionally fragile woman into a sexual relationship while he was on duty.
Gregory S. Cody, 54, was booked into the Lancaster County jail Wednesday afternoon on a charge of first-degree sexual assault of an incompetent person. He was a 27-year veteran of the police department, most recently as a street officer in southwest Lincoln.
His attorney, John Ball, declined to comment about Cody's arrest on Wednesday.
He would face up to 50 years in prison if convicted.
In a nine-page affidavit, Nebraska State Patrol Investigator Neal Trantham said Cody's accuser, a 30-year-old Lincoln woman, described more than a year's worth of interactions with Cody, including about 50 incidents of sexual encounters which she described as forced.
She said it began in July 2016, when Cody released her from custody rather than take her into emergency protective custody and said she would "owe him." They became friends on Facebook and conversations quickly became sexual.
According to court records, she had told several friends, health care workers and at least two Lincoln police officers she was being stalked and abused by an officer before any formal investigation began.
She told one officer over the summer — identifying Cody by name and showing the officer Cody's personal cellphone number saved on her phone, according to the affidavit.
That officer told her how to report it to internal affairs, but didn't take the information to superiors until after Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister sent an internal memo to all officers about the investigation.
A sergeant on the police force also came forward in response to the memo, and said the woman had told him Oct. 16 that there was a rapist in the department but wouldn't say who.
She later told investigators about an incident in Cody's police vehicle at the parking lot of the Lincoln Children's Zoo that she says happened the night of Oct. 15.
She said Cody had tried to touch her breasts, grabbed her crotch and squeezed her neck and kissed her, according to the affidavit. When she tried to leave, she said, he pushed her into the "search position" against his SUV and put his hand into her pants and penetrated her.
The first investigation of her allegations started Oct. 17, after police found her lying on a sidewalk, intoxicated near Holmes Lake Park. She said she had fallen from the backstop at a nearby baseball field.
At a Lincoln hospital where she was being treated, she told a mental health specialist she was being abused, physically and sexually, by a police officer but was afraid to report the abuse.
Later that day Cody, while on duty and in uniform, entered the locked Intensive Care Unit where she was being treated, according to Trantham's affidavit. The woman told nurses after he left that Cody was the one who had been assaulting her for more than a year.
The police department placed Cody on unpaid administrative leave on Oct. 18. He retired two days later.
Another officer later was put on unpaid, investigative suspension and soon resigned. It is uncertain whether that officer is one of the two who did not immediately report the woman's allegations. Police have not given that officer's name.
An early retirement or resignation has no impact on an officer's ability to collect pension benefits, city Human Resources Director Doug McDaniel said recently. And a later criminal conviction — even for an event that occurred while the officer was working — wouldn't have an impact.
The law, labor contracts and the ongoing investigations have prevented Lincoln police from disclosing more information, Bliemeister said previously.
In a statement Wednesday following Cody's arrest, the police chief said: "The Lincoln Police Department will not tolerate actions that undermine the public’s trust.”
"The actions of these individuals do not define the men and women of our agency,” he said.