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Woman says Cleveland police officer choked her while sexually assaulting her in 2019; officer denies allegations

Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 3:59 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A woman came forward to share her sexual assault allegations against a Cleveland cop.

19 Investigates learned her story may have been what lead another accuser to come forward this spring.

We told you when the officer was indicted on rape charges in both cases earlier this month.

After seeing our continuing coverage, Ashley Spencer reached out to investigator Hannah Catlett with additional details of what she says happened the night of her assault.

19 News does not typically identify victims of sexual assault, but in this case, Spencer came forward, hoping her story could keep other victims of any sexual assault from staying silent.

Spencer says she met Officer Matthew Piter on Tinder in 2019.

“I thought he was very nice, and I could believe and trust him because he was a cop,” Spencer said. “Next thing I know, the unexplainable happened; the worse thing a nightmare that girl could go through.”

Spencer says Piter brought her back to his house after a dinner date at a Mexican restaurant in Kamm’s Corner in October of 2019.

“I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve been telling someone not to do something and they just continued to do it anyway,” Spencer said.

Spencer says after Piter had several drinks, he forced himself on her.

“I was saying no and pushing him away, and that’s when he physically grabbed me by my throat pushed me up against a wall and started choking me,” she said.

She says she told him no many more times, but he kept going further.

“He proceeded to unbuckle my pants and pull them down,” she said.

Spencer says when she finally escaped, she called police from a Lyft.

Officers met her outside her apartment, where she made the report about Piter to his fellow officers.

“With him being an authoritative figure, he could have done anything to me. He had guns in his house,” she said.

Spencer lives out of state now, but called 19 Investigates after she says prosecutors told her another woman came forward recently when she learned about Spencer’s reported case.

“That made me feel like a hero,” Spencer said.

19 Investigates discovered that second woman went to police in Washington state with allegations Piter assaulted her in 2017, two years before Spencer’s alleged assault.

Earlier this month, Piter was indicted on rape charges in both cases brought against him.

Spencer says she wanted to get the story back on air this week, in case there are other sexual assault victims in any case, not just this one, who’ve not come forward.

“Maybe I can help and stand up for other sexual assault victims and give them the pride and willingness that they can go against their assailant,” Spencer said.

After talking to Spencer, 19 Investigates spoke to Piter’s attorney, Henry Hilow over the phone.

Hilow says Piter continues to deny all of the allegations against him. He says Piter has not contacted Spencer since the night in question and has respected her privacy.

In fact, Hilow says Spencer’s allegations have ruined Piter’s life, and he believes it’s irresponsible of her to speak out publicly before the case plays out in court.

According to the Cleveland Police Department, Officer Piter is still on the force. He’s suspended though, without pay pending the outcome of his criminal case.

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