2nd woman comes forward to share sexual assault allegations against Cleveland police officer

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 11:16 AM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A woman claimed a Cleveland police officer sexually assaulted her two years before he allegedly hurt someone else.

19 Investigates told you when Officer Matthew Piter was indicted on rape charges in both cases at the beginning of this month.

Last week, one accuser shared her story with us.

Now, we’re hearing from the other alleged victim who reached out to 19 Investigates because of our continuing coverage.

As we explained when the last woman came forward, we don’t typically identify victims of sexual assault.

However, in this case, these women want their stories heard because they include serious allegations against someone in an authoritative position of power, someone who vowed to keep the community safe.

It’s been nearly four years since Lauren Little said the Cleveland police officer assaulted her at her apartment near the Flats.

“I just kept saying, ‘No no no no,’” Little said.

Little said she didn’t have any intention of sleeping with Piter when she invited him over one night in 2017.

“He began to aggressively lick my face and bite me,” she said.

She’d met Piter on Tinder and said just days before he allegedly assaulted her, they got pizza together in the Flats.

“He was known by everybody. He seemed like a very stand-up guy,” Little said. “I had no issues or what I would consider red flags.”

So, she was surprised and uncomfortable when she said he came over to her apartment extremely intoxicated.

“He was slurring his speech,” she said. “He reeked of alcohol and he started getting really handsy with me.”

She said she asked him to leave, but he wouldn’t.

“He came up from behind me, grabbing my tank top, wrapping it around my throat and strangling me with my tank top,” she said.

Though she didn’t come forward right away, Little said she put the shirt in a plastic bag and kept it. It followed her in her move out of the city to Florida and to Washington state, where she lives now.

“That was something that I hung on to for the sake of saying that I may have not come forward, but I know what happened to me that night,” she said.

She couldn’t believe what she said Piter texted her the next day.

“The next morning he messaged me and said, ‘Hey, sorry I was so rough with you.’ And I said, ‘It was a little more than rough. Do you not remember tearing my favorite shirt? Do you not remember any of that?’ And he was like, “Well, I just like it rough.’ OK, well, I also like consent,” Little said.

Piter is now charged with two counts of rape in her case, and another count of rape in Ashley Spencer’s case.

Spencer told us she met Piter on Tinder too and that he sexually assaulted her after a dinner date in 2019.

Little said she felt she had to go to police and speak out publicly after hearing Spencer’s experience.

“Obviously, had I come forward, he wouldn’t have had the chance to hurt somebody else, and there’s a lot of guilt that comes with that,” Little said.

Piter’s attorney, Henry Hilow, says Piter denies all allegations against him.

In fact, when we last spoke to him about Spencer’s allegations, Hilow told us it was irresponsible of the women to speak out before the case plays out in court.

In response to that comment, Little said, “You’re concerned about your client’s reputation. I am concerned about my mental health. The moment that he decided no was not a good enough answer I think he took away that right to worry about his reputation. If he were concerned about it, he wouldn’t have done those things.”

Piter was arraigned in court Thursday. He pleaded not guilty and has since been released on bond.

According to the Cleveland Police Department, Piter is currently suspended without pay.

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