Former Trumbull cop pleads not guilty to sex assault

William Ruscoe, a former Trumbull Police officer, entered a plea of not guilty Tuesday to charges that he sexually assaulted a teen girl.

Ruscoe, 44, a long-time Trumbull Police officer, was arrested Feb. 24 and charged with second-degree sexual assault, fourth-degree sexual assault and tampering with a witness. Ruscoe appeared in Bridgeport Superior Court Tuesday morning and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Ruscoe’s appearance was brief. His attorney, Michael Fitzpatrick, requested a discussion in chambers with Judge Robert J. Devlin. Judge Devlin agreed to meet following other court business. Ruscoe had been prevented from leaving the state, but Judge Devlin agreed to allow Ruscoe to take a prepaid family trip.

Ruscoe, who served with the Trumbull department for 19 years, was placed on administrative leave following the arrest. He resigned from the department March 14, according to Deputy Chief Michael Harry. The Trumbull Police launched an internal investigation that is ongoing, Harry said.

The alleged assault involved a student, now 18, who was part of the Trumbull Police Explorers program and the incident occurred at Ruscoe’s Trumbull residence, where he used his handcuffs at one point, to restrain the victim, according to court documents.

According to investigators at the State Police Major Crime Squad of Troop C in Tolland, which handled the investigation, the victim said that “when Officer Ruscoe began communicating with her in a sexual way she was very intimidated because of his position and she was new in the post and did not want to get him in trouble.”

Court documents claim that Ruscoe had a pattern of flirting with and befriending female cadets who attended a week-long Explorers camp at the University of Hartford, where he was an instructor, according to the investigation. A second female, now 17, reported meeting Ruscoe at the camp and starting a relationship with him that included inappropriate and sexual text messages. The victim is a student in Tolland County, and her statement to police launched the investigation into Ruscoe.

Last fall, Ruscoe allegedly drove the first victim home after both had worked at a Trumbull High School event. He took her to a residence he had just moved out of in town. The victim told police she was afraid to go inside at first because she thought he would try something, but she eventually entered. Once inside, the victim said he placed his gun on the counter, while looking at her in a threatening way. He later assaulted her upstairs, despite her protests. The victim said she told Ruscoe no, “what felt like a thousand times.”

In a later conversation, Ruscoe told her he thought he could go to jail for what he did but he would kill himself before that. The victim also said Ruscoe contacted her in January and told her he was worried State Police might contact her, and that she didn’t have to talk to them.

Following the arrest,  Police Chief Thomas Kiely said he was deeply troubled by the nature of the charges and would ensure the integrity of the department was preserved during the internal investigation. First Selectman Timothy Herbst said soon after the arrest that the charges were a black eye on an otherwise great department. Herbst said the details of the investigation are disturbing and the town will take action if the charges are proven true.

Ruscoe will next appear in court for a pre-trial hearing.