Now comes a sordid tale of sex, abuse of power, and personal jersey messaging from the mixed-up files of the Palisades Interstate Parkway Police Department. The PIPPD, and as police departments go in size and jurisdiction, has fewer than 30 officers to patrol an mile stretch of the Palisades Interstate Parkway near Palisades Park, a gorgeous strip of woods and cliffs on the west side of the Hudson River, extending north from the George Washington Bridge.
The main thing these officers do is issue speeding tickets. Drivers unfortunate enough to get a ticket have to appear before a small court in Alpine, New Jersey. The court has been compared to alpine out of My Cousin Vinny. During new course of her interaction with the Palisades cops inshe had an affair sex an officer, Vincent Roberson, including consensual sexual liaisons with him while he was on duty, according to documents obtained by the Voice. When he threatened her, Lawrence filed a complaint with his bosses.
He denied the allegations. Without looking for any independent verification of her claims, PIPPD arrested Lawrence and charged her with filing a false report and lying to investigators. Nor would either agency pursue criminal charges against Roberson for his alleged serious misconduct. For Lawrence, what followed was an month legal ordeal, complete with document cover-ups and stonewalling that will be made even worse on July 2, when she reports to jail for a day stint, pending appeal. Nevertheless, our citizens are protected under the Constitution.
This is in fairness to all parties involved. We asked Andrew Samson, the case prosecutor, why the false-reporting charges against Lawrence were not dropped until 18 months after her allegations had been proved true. Samson said he could not fully discuss the case because internal affairs matters are confidential. But he told the Voice that there was probable cause and merit to the initial charges.
Lawrence lives in a three-bedroom apartment in the Midwood section of Brooklyn. She was born in Israel and is fluent in four languages. Lawrence came to the States, got married, and had three children before divorcing her husband. When she obtained U. One daughter, 26, is in the Navy. A second, 24, is in law school. A son, 23, is studying in a yeshiva.
At a relatively advanced age, following the end of a difficult year marriage, Lawrence attended Brooklyn College and majored in Spanish. After college, she ed the U. Army because her Orthodox Jewish parents had not allowed her to in Israel as a young woman. She had to drop out following a back injury in basic training. She has not worked since and receives financial support from family and friends.
Ordinarily, one would think that driving through the jurisdiction of the PIPPD would be a fairly simple matter. But Lawrence kept getting pulled over on her way to and from Kiryas Joel, an upstate Orthodox Jewish enclave near Harriman.
Between andshe was stopped at least seven times and issued a total of 40 tickets. In addition, Palisades police took her involuntarily to psychiatric hospitals about six times during the period. As a result, she got to know Palisades officers well.
There have also been allegations that the department targets Orthodox Jewish drivers, along with racial profiling charges involving black and Latino motorists. In one incident described as profiling of Jews, a woman leaving a country-club Orthodox wedding got seven tickets for minor things, including having a dirty plate.
In another incident, new Jewish ambulance service stopped using the parkway because its vehicles were getting hit with so many tickets. In a third, members of a group of elderly Jewish people in a rental car were handcuffed and made to lie on the ground. On several occasions, for incidents like the ones described and budgetary reasons, bills have been introduced in the state legislature to abolish the department and merge it with either the Bergen County Police or the New Jersey State Police.
One such bill is pending. In the fall ofLawrence was stopped twice and ticketed by Palisades cops for careless driving, among other things. On May 3 and June 9, sex, Lawrence was stopped twice more and hit jersey 11 traffic violations. In the May incident, she was again involuntarily admitted to the Bergen alpine for two personal. In the June 9 incident, she allegedly took off at high speed and tailgated a car in front of her.
On May 7,and she was released from the hospital a second time, she went to Palisades police headquarters to retrieve her car. The encounter led to an eight-month relationship.
He told her that he was married, but his wife was overseas awaiting a visa. Two days later, on June 12,she says Roberson met her at a New Jersey hotel for sex. They stayed overnight in the hotel. Some of the liaisons took place while Roberson was on duty, she says.
The thing that really bothered Lawrence and eventually led her to file a complaint was an occasion on which Roberson essentially demanded sex if he were going to continue to talk to her, she says. On November 19,Roberson coerced her into going to the hospital.
She was released the following day. On the way home, Roberson, she claims, made threats against her and her family if she filed a complaint with his supervisors. During this period, Lawrence and Roberson exchanged angry text messages and basically ended the affair. Roberson on at least one occasion made an anti-Semitic remark. I am sick of the loonacy [sic]. But I will call you again to check on you. U will be hated by everyone u try to be friends with.
On December 5, Lawrence wrote a long e-mail to Roberson, trying to explain her thinking. At the same time, I need my life back.
On December 6,a Palisades officer attempted to pull Lawrence over. She was ticketed for speeding. She named Roberson, disclosed a sexual relationship with him, and said they met at his house or the park while he was on duty. She said Roberson had accused her of stalking him.
However, even though he knew that Lawrence had phone records and text messages to back up her claim, Coppola never asked for them. She texted Roberson to tell him she had made the complaint. Over the next two days, Roberson pleaded with her to withdraw the complaint and allegedly threatened her again.
She approached an officer with the Bogota, New Jersey, police department, Jonathan Misskerg, for advice on how to withdraw the complaint. On December 20,she called Palisades Police lieutenant Coppola to ask him to withdraw the complaint. On December 21, Coppola interviewed Roberson.
A pattern developed, he claimed, during which he tried to get away from her, and she kept pursuing him. Roberson denied doing anything improper. He specifically denied having sexual contact with Lawrence. Coppola then asked Lawrence to talk with him. They parried over her complaint, with Lawrence giving evasive, vague answers.
Coppola arrested her for filing a false report. In his report, he wrote that Lawrence had a long history with the agency, questioned her mental stability, and mentioned her psychiatric commitments.
Lawrence and in alpine of Officer Roberson probably because of all the history that Ms. Lawrence has with new police department. Fried says there was a clear conflict of interest in the way Palisades police handled Lawrence and notes in court that Coppola not only was involved as a supervisor in some of the arrests of Lawrence but also oversaw the internal investigation of Roberson.
This has shades of small-police-department cronyism. They should have referred it to an outside agency or a prosecutor to avoid that conflict. Following her arrest, on sex advice of a friend, Lawrence returned to the Bogota police and, this time, told the story in much personal detail to Captain James Sepp.
She also turned over hundreds of text messages and s of phone records, which showed that Roberson had called her hundreds of times over and eight-month period. Among the new revelations: Roberson exposed his penis to her while in uniform and had oral sex with her while on duty. On January 20,Coppola re-interviewed Roberson. Roberson had lied about not talking to Lawrence during periods when he was talking to her.
He had to admit that he had, in jersey, called her a lot more than she called him. He had to admit that they had rehearsed for two hours what they would say to get the investigation dropped. He had to explain how inside the station house, Lawrence was jokingly referred to as a stalker.
And Roberson finally had to admit that he had a sexual relationship with Lawrence and that he was ashamed. He admitted to sex at a motel and at his house, and he admitted to oral sex. Roberson claimed he never had sex with her while on duty, but confronted by Coppola, he began to hedge. How can you forget that? Are you kidding me? Roberson eventually grudgingly admitted to one time in uniform. In other words, the man who so quickly arrested Gail Lawrence basically gave Vincent Roberson a pass from the start, even though the officer theoretically could have been charged with intimidation, harassment, official misconduct, obstructing an investigation, lying to investigators, falsifying documents, and as Coppola himself noted, witness tampering.