Suit: Group membership aided trooper
Fri, Jul. 25, 2003
By Chris Gray, Inquirer Staff Writer
George Washington belonged to the fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons. So did Benjamin Franklin, Charles Lindbergh, Clark Gable and Arnold Palmer.
So do numerous Pennsylvania state troopers, including many current and former high-ranking officers. And now allegations have been raised that law enforcement members of the charitable and social fraternity protected former trooper Michael Evans, a Mason since 1989, when he was faced with sexual-misconduct complaints that in some cases led to convictions.
The allegations are contained in the same federal lawsuit that included previously confidential reports of sexual misconduct within the State Police that recently have made headlines.
In the suit, a woman - one of Evans' six victims - alleges that fellow Masons within the State Police helped Evans at crucial stages during his career. She attempts to buttress her claim with depositions that were taken in other lawsuits filed by Evans' victims against the state. Two of those have been settled.
Evans is serving a 5- to 10-year prison term after pleading guilty to sexual offenses against six people, some of them teenagers.
"The question of whether membership in the Masons helps one's career within PSP is both absurd and insulting," Pennsylvania's state police commissioner, Col. Jeffrey Miller, said through a spokesman. Miller is not a Mason.
In depositions, Evans said he joined the Masons before he arrived at the State Police in 1996 and that his father and grandfather had been members.
He testified that his assigned coach at the Montgomery County barracks then based in Limerick noticed his necklace with Masonic symbols and pointed out that Sgt. Kevin Krupiewski also was a member.
Eventually, Evans testified, he joined the same Masonic lodge as Krupiewski when he moved to the area. The two men attended several functions together, including a Maine weekend camping trip. Krupiewski kept a framed photo of the two, along with several other members of the State Police who were Masons, in his office from one of their social activities.
The lawsuit claims Krupiewski failed to document a complaint made against Evans by a woman who was arrested with her husband while they were having sex in a car. When Evans brought the couple in, he allegedly made sexually inappropriate comments to the woman.
And in a 1998 internal investigation report into allegations that Evans hired a prostitute and photographed her nude on a police car, other troopers said they sometimes did not report Evans' misbehavior because he was protected by Krupiewski.
"Evans is Sgt. Krupiewski's golden boy," Trooper Joseph Aliteri told Cpl. Robert Murray, a State Police investigator. "Nothing would have been done and I would have gotten a lot of grief for coming forward."
Krupiewski did not return calls for comment. But in the same 1998 report, he said he did not favor Evans.
In a later deposition, Krupiewski said he felt Evans was a "brownnoser" who made it a point to get close to high-ranking police officers who were also Masons and then advertise those interactions with non-Masonic colleagues.
"Apparently he may have used our well-intended relationship to probably convey a false perception to somebody else," Krupiewski testified. He added that he did not arrive at that realization until after Evans pleaded guilty.
Enough law enforcement personnel belong to the Masons to form a group called Shield and Square, which is open to any Mason who has arrest powers. A representative of the group did not return calls. A newsletter on the Web site of the Pennsylvania Grand Lodge put membership at more than 300.
In 1998, when Evanko became a Mason at the Grand Lodge on Broad Street in Center City, more than 100 troopers who were Masons attended, according to an organization newsletter. They wore the traditional State Police dress uniform with the state seal replaced by the Masonic square and compass.
Evans testified that he was among the Masons at the ceremony.
Statements from witnesses and defendants in the various Evans' cases gave conflicting views on the importance of belonging to the Masons.
In a deposition, Lt. Linda Scott said rumors of Masons protecting Evans when he was being investigated for sexual misconduct were "rampant." She also said being a Mason helped men advance within the State Police, particularly in the commissioned officer ranks, although she had no proof.
Another trooper, Sgt. John Comerer, described the rumors that being a Mason helps your career as "locker room talk."
But Sgt. Gary Fasy, who worked at the Skippack barracks, testified that Krupiewski told him "anybody that's everybody seems to be in the Masons. You seem to be an up-and-coming star so maybe you ought to think about it."
And another officer, Lt. Dennis Hunsicker, asked Fasy whether he was a Mason, according to a deposition in one of the lawsuits that was settled.. When Fasy said no, Hunsicker said "Ah, that's what... [is] wrong with you," Fasy testified.
Hunsicker, in a deposition, denied making that remark.
In 1997, Hunsicker and another trooper reviewed a polygraph test that one of Evans' victims, a 16-year-old girl, had taken. The girl had alleged that Evans made sexually explicit remarks to her and had touched himself inappropriately while he was investigating a burglary at her Perkiomenville home.
The operator of the test, Trooper Lynn Eshleman, concluded that the girl was telling the truth, according to a 1998 investigation report. But Hunsicker and another polygraph operator insisted that the girl was lying, the report said.
Eventually, outside reviews by Montgomery County detectives showed that the girl was being truthful. Evans later pleaded guilty to the offense.
Contact staff writer Chris Gray at 610-313-8108 or firstname.lastname@example.org.