Former NIU Police officer accused of sexually assaulting student

Andrew Rifkin

Andrew Rifkin

By Andrea Azzo

A former NIU Police officer was charged Tuesday for sexually assaulting a female student.

Andrew Rifkin is accused of criminal sexual assault, said Victor Escarcida, DeKalb County assistant state’s attorney.

The victim, an NIU student, filed a complaint against Rifkin with the NIU Police Friday. The crime allegedly took place Oct. 14.

Rifkin is accused of committing an act of sexual penetration without the student’s consent, Escarcida said.

Rifkin and the victim had some kind of relationship, said NIU Police Sgt. Alan Smith said, but he said he wasn’t aware of the details. Smith said the incident occurred off-campus.

DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott said Rifkin was taken to the county jail Tuesday afternoon. He posted $15,000 bond and was released later that evening.

The crime is considered a Class One felony. If convicted, Rifkin could face up to 30 years in prison, Escarcida said. Rifkin has not entered a plea in the case.

“We take these allegations very seriously,” Smith said. “This is not the type of behavior that we expect from our officers.”

Rifkin was removed from his position with NIU Police immediately, Smith said. Smith said the police department has a strict policy against its officers engaging in close relationships with students.

“When we found out, we took appropriate measures very swiftly,” Smith said.

Details of the report cannot be released at this time because of the nature of the crime, Smith said.

The NIU Police is taking point in the investigation, Smith said. Although the offender is a former officer, Smith likened the situation to other departments utilizing in-house internal affairs officers for similar situations.

“We’re a professional organization,” Smith said. “We take this seriously.”

Smith said the NIU Police Department has a thorough, rigorous program for hiring officers. The department performs background checks on all applicants before they are hired.

“There was nothing in his background that indicated any issues like this,” Smith said.

As of press time Wednesday, NIU had not released an official statement on the alleged incident.

“Our initial, first thought was to make sure the victim is okay,” said Paul Palian, director of Media and Public Relations. “She was referred to the appropriate counseling.”

Palian confirmed Rifkin is no longer employed by the university in any capacity and said he believed Rifkin is banned from campus.

“[NIU] does not tolerate sexual assault, rape or sexual abuse of any kind against students, staff, faculty or visitors,” Palian said in an email.

Palian also said NIU offers a number of services for victims of sexual assault on campus.

Rifkin’s first court date is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Friday at the DeKalb County courthouse, Scott said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Campus Editor Matt Liparota contributed to this article.