Trumbull police sergeant, former Shelton fire captain charged in sex assault

SHELTON — Two volunteer members of a local fire department — including one who is a Trumbull police sergeant — have been arrested in connection with a 2020 sexual assault, authorities announced Wednesday.

Trumbull police Sgt. Matthew Perkowski is accused of slapping the woman so hard during the assault one of her eardrums was ruptured and she had trouble hearing afterward, according to an arrest warrant.

The victim also suffered from multiple bruises and bite marks during the assault, according to the warrant, written by Detective Richard Bango.

But a lawyer representing the 33-year-old sergeant said the encounter was “100 percent consensual” prior to his client’s arraignment Wednesday at state Superior Court in Derby on charges of first-degree sexual assault and second-degree assault.

Judge Scott Jones continued the case to June 23 and issued a protective order, barring Perkowski from having any contact with the woman he’s accused of raping.

According to the warrant, the assault was allegedly initiated by Perkowski’s friend and fellow firefighter John Scollin, who was arrested Wednesday on charges of first-degree sexual assault.

Perkowski surrendered to police Tuesday and was released after posting a $150,000 bond. He did not speak outside court after his arraignment.

Scollin also posted $150,000 bond and is expected to appear in court Thursday.

Outside the courthouse, Perkowski’s lawyer, Gregory Cerritelli, said his client’s arrest was political, noting the initial allegations dated to September 2020, when the case was investigated by Shelton police and the state’s attorney’s office declined to prosecute.

“I was expecting something new,” he said. “These are all the same reports that are dated from two years ago. There’s nothing new except somebody wasn’t happy with the fact that this guy and Scollin didn’t get arrested.”

The lawyer declined to be more specific about who he thought prompted Perkowski’s arrest.

In a prepared statement Wednesday afternoon, Scollin’s lawyer, Christian Young, echoed the sentiment.

“This is a matter that had, years ago, been thoroughly reviewed by investigating and prosecuting authorities who determined there was no reason to criminally charge or arrest anyone,” he said.

Asked about the victim’s injuries as documented by police, Cerritelli noted that his client was not the only one allegedly involved.

“Firstly, Matt Perkowski was not the only person present there,” he said. “Secondly, people have their own desires and this may have been a very consensual act between these people.”

He said Perkowski intends to plead not guilty and take the case to trial.

According to the warrant, the alleged victim said Scollin began to call and text her about 1 a.m. Sept. 6, 2020, drunkenly demanding to have sex, then showed up at her house, where he was “very intoxicated” and “aggressive.”

The woman said Scollin had her drive to the Echo Hose firehouse, where she said Scollin assaulted her in her car outside the building, the warrant stated.

“The victim stated she said multiple times to stop, but he refused and he forced her to continue,” the warrant stated.

Eventually, the woman told police, she and Scollin went to Perkowski’s Shelton home, where she said both men physically and sexually assaulted her.

The woman told police she wasn’t sure whether she wanted to press charges, then told police the next week she didn’t want to pursue her complaint.

According to the warrant, a prosecutor at the courthouse told cops that “we would only pursue the matter if the victim wanted to proceed.”

Then, last March, the warrant stated the woman called Bango “extremely upset and crying” because Scollin had told her there would be a newspaper article about the case.

“The victim stated she wanted to come in and say she made the whole thing up to make this go away,” the warrant stated. “(Bango) advised the victim she could come to the police department, but if she gave a statement that was later found to be untruthful, there could be legal consequences.”

Last year, Mayor Mark Lauretti and other Shelton officials said they were not notified of the incident until March 2021, when Hearst Connecticut Media Group obtained a copy of the police report through a Freedom of Information Act request.

On June 1, 2021, the warrant stated, Bango “met with supervisors at the Shelton Police Department and it was determined that the allegations fall within family violence laws.”

Cerritelli said the passage of time between the initial investigation and Perkowski’s arrest was suspicious.

“To say I’m outraged is an understatement,” Cerritelli said. “This was motivated I’m sure by forces greater than we can imagine, but something’s going on here and it certainly doesn’t smell very good.”

Lauretti said Wednesday he doesn’t “have any power to make arrests” and said there was nothing political about the arrests.

“But if this is their case,” the mayor said, “I’m not there yet. I have been through this for years. You need to cut through the rhetoric” to get to the facts of the case.

Young said police shouldn’t have released the initial report in response to the public records request, saying the city “chose to improperly release the confidential investigative materials causing harm to individuals.”

“We look forward to learning more about how and why this previously reviewed matter has years later resulted in an arrest,” he said.

“The fact that they now have persisted in pushing for an arrest is evidence the case was still open, which is further evidence the release of the records of an apparently ongoing investigation was wrong and unjustifiable,” Young said.

Trumbull police said in a statement Wednesday that Perkowski was placed on administrative leave as a result of the criminal charges, and that his police powers have been suspended.

“The allegations contained in the Shelton police arrest warrant will be reviewed and investigated by the Office of Internal Affairs in Trumbull to identify any violations of the department’s Code of Conduct, and we will await the findings from the court,” Trumbull Police Chief Michael Lombardo said in a statement. “These accusations present a very serious personnel matter that will be handled appropriately.”

Trumbull police referred further questions to Shelton police and the state’s attorney’s office.

The case drew swift reaction from the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut.

“Police carry handcuffs and guns, can access people’s sensitive personal information — including that of sexual assault survivors — and are often tasked with investigating sexual assaults, making the accusations against this person even more concerning and immediately relevant to whether they can or should be a police officer,” said Dan Barrett, the organization’s legal director.

Perkowski and Scollin have been suspended by the fire department since the start of the investigation. Scollin resigned as captain soon after he was suspended.

Fire Commission Michael Maglione declined to comment on the arrests.

Lauretti said after being notified of the accusations on March 8, 2021, he read the police report, which he described as “extremely graphic.”

Bango noted in the report the Trumbull Police Department was notified about the woman’s accusations involving Perkowski.

After they were notified, Trumbull police conducted an internal investigation that resulted in Lombardo suspending Perkowski for 15 days.

Perkowski appealed through a union grievance, but the Trumbull Police Commission unanimously upheld the suspension, calling the accusations against the officer “abusive and reprehensible.”