The DA’s Office was forced to withdraw the charges after one of Holmes’ accusers, a former Philadelphia police officer, failed to appear in court.
The District Attorney’s Office on Friday withdrew three assault charges against Carl Holmes, a former Philadelphia police chief inspector who was indicted by a grand jury in 2019, and charged with sexually assaulting three female police officers.
Prosecutors were forced to withdraw the charges — which included a second-degree felony, aggravated indecent assault without consent — after one of Holmes’ alleged victims failed to appear during a preliminary hearing at the Justice Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice.
The charges had previously been dismissed by Judge Karen Simmons for a lack of prosecution in January, and were refiled by the District Attorney’s Office in February.
“From the beginning, Carl has maintained his innocence,” said Gregory Pagano, Holmes’ lawyer. “I think what happened here today corroborates the fact that he’s innocent.”
The District Attorney’s Office alluded to ongoing difficulties with getting the former officer, who had moved to Florida, to travel to Philadelphia.
“In prepandemic times, sexual assault trials were already challenging for victims and witnesses due to the re-traumatizing impacts of court testimony,” Jane Roh, a spokesperson for the office, wrote in a statement. “Since the pandemic, these challenges have only intensified.”
Holmes, 55, still faces more than a half-dozen charges, including sexual assault and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, stemming from allegations that he digitally penetrated two other former Philadelphia police officers, Christa Hayburn and Michele Vandegrift, against their will during separate encounters in 2006 or 2007.
(The Inquirer doesn’t typically identify people alleged to have been sexually assaulted, but both former officers spoke publicly in the past to help bring attention to how the Police Department has mishandled allegations of workplace sexual harassment and assault.)
Vandegrift sued the city over her alleged assault; the case was settled in 2017 for $1.25 million.
Holmes, a lawyer who once starred as an offensive tackle on Temple University’s football team, was fired by the Police Department after the October 2019 indictment.