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Wilkes-Barre, PA — Last year, not one, not two, but eight different women came forward and accused former Wilkes-Barre police officer Robert Collins of sexually assaulting them while he was on duty. Collins was first arrested in January 2019 and again in June of 2019 after state police gathered enough evidence of the repeated sexual assaults. Despite these allegations, however, Collins recently walked free.

“This cost me my career. I should still be a Wilkes-Barre police officer,” said Collins, 55, who retired in February 2019, a month after state police accused him of sexually assaulting women while on duty. “You don’t know what I have gone through for the past 19 months. Ridiculous. Me and my family have gone through hell.”

Prosecutors accused Collins of using his badge to sexually assault the women under the threat of jail. He was accused of pulling them over and bringing them to dark areas and then raping them under duress.

As reports, throughout the trial, the prosecution portrayed Collins as a methodical predator who targeted vulnerable women and used his position of authority to exploit them. After detaining the women for minor offenses such as drug possession or traffic violations, Collins brought them to secluded locations and threatened them with jail if they didn’t agree to perform sex acts on him, Senior Deputy Attorney General Bernard Anderson alleged.

“You can go to jail or take care of this,” Anderson quoted Collins as saying.

The defense, however, was able to successfully convince the jury that these women had launched a smear campaign against Collins, claiming that they were after money and had filed lawsuits.

But this was simply a misrepresentation and not the actual truth. None of the women knew each other and not a single one of them filed a lawsuit when they made their original complaints. Instead, lawyers found the women, only after the media began reporting on Collins' arrest.

“After this hit the press, the lawyers descended,” Anderson said. “The lawyers went to them.”

Nevertheless, the jury bought the defense's case and moved to acquit the officer.

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It is important to point out that even the most vile of accused criminals deserve the right to due process and a fair trial to exonerate them. However, we would be remiss if we didn't point out the problem of blue privilege in the court systems — especially when it comes to sex offending cops and especially in Wilkes-Barre.

As The Free Thought Project has consistently reported, police officers, even if they’re caught on video committing a crime, are rarely punished to the same standards the public which they’re sworn to protect are held to.

Gerald Cookus, another twenty-year veteran of the Wilkes-Barre Police Department, was sentenced to just 3 months in prison for admittedly molesting an 8-year-old girl at his home in Wilkes-Barre.

Cookus, who was working as a greeter at the school known as the Solomon Plains Education Center, was seen by the victim’s mom hugging the victim in a way that aroused her suspicions. Upon further investigation, it was discovered Cookus had molested the girl because, in his words, he felt like she liked it.

According to WNEP News, “Court papers show he admitted to police he touched the girl inappropriately because he believed she thought it felt good." And for this admission, he received a slap on the wrist.

There is more.

As we reported at the time, the headline read "Ex-Dupont police officer sentenced to prison for corruption of minor" but former Dupont Borough police officer, David Turkos, 44, never spent an entire day inside of a prison cell for raping two young boys. Dupont is a town neighboring Wilkes-Barre in Luzerne county. Judge Michael T. Vough sentenced Turkos for 9-23 months, at Luzerne County Correctional Facility, but the former officer was immediately eligible for work release.

For those unfamiliar, work release allows a prisoner to go to a job during the day and only have to sleep nights in jail. It is essentially state-funded housing.

Turkos was charged in 2015 with three counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, two counts of indecent assault and a count of simple assault. However, he only pleaded guilty to two counts of corruption of minors. The plea deal was accepted by Vough and the more serious felony rest counts were withdrawn — a typical and common privilege afforded to the thin blue line, even for the vilest of offenders.

The slap on the wrist sentences for former police officers who have engaged in criminal sexual activity has now become so commonplace it borders on the edge of being comical—if it weren't so horrific.