Former Philly cop sent to federal prison for admitting he sexually assaulted woman while on patrol

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A retired Philadelphia police officer has been sentenced to one year behind bars after admitting he sexually assaulted a woman with a city-issued gun, which happened outside a school. 

Thomas O’Neill was on duty in July 2016 when he ordered the victim into his patrol car and then drove her to Northeast High School, pulled out his city-issued gun and a knife, and assaulted her.

Federal prosecutors said it was caught on surveillance video and DNA found on the victim’s pants belonged to O’Neill. 

The now 53-year-old pleaded guilty in January to a charge called deprivation of rights under color of law – meaning he was charged federally because he was a police officer in uniform and used a government-issued firearm to commit the crime.

O’Neill spent 24 years as an officer.

In court, he pointed to alcoholism as the reason for his bad decisions. 

He agreed to plead guilty as part of a negotiation with prosecutors so the victim would not have to be re-traumatized, according to a court filing.

The District Attorney’s office, under Seth Williams’ administration, had declined charges against O’Neill.

“Securing a guilty plea from this defendant and ensuring that he serves time in prison was a priority for my office in seeking justice in this case,” said U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain. “This defendant’s actions are particularly reprehensible because he used his position of authority and trust to his advantage over the victim. No matter who you are, if you commit a violent crime, my office is committed to holding you accountable and keeping our community safe.”

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