Following a six-week internal affairs investigation, Anthony Maio — a 13-year veteran of the New Haven Police Department — was charged Wednesday with two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and two counts of unlawful restraint.

Maio is fifth New Haven police officer to be arrested since the March 2007 FBI probe into the NHPD that sparked city-wide calls for reform, transparency and accountability. But unlike the other officers arrested, such as convicted narcotics chief Lt. Billy White, Maio faces charges that are misdemeanors, not felonies.

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Still, Acting NHPD Chief Stephanie Redding said, the department “take[s] these incidents very seriously.”

“This type of behavior from an officer is unacceptable,” she said in a statement. “Our residents count on us to be role models, to serve them and to provide them with effective community policing.”

At an afternoon press conference, Redding said the incidents in question occurred on April 19 while Maio was on duty. They were investigated the same day, after a civilian complaint was filed, she said.

The alleged sexual assault took place at a business, Redding said, but she declined to provide further details or identify the victims other than to say that they are not NHPD employees.

The State Attorney’s Office signed off on a warrant for Maio’s arrest Wednesday, and the officer was turning himself in “as we speak,” Redding said outside police headquarters.

Fourth-degree sexual assault is classified by Connecticut as inappropriate sexual conduct. Sexual assault in the fourth degree and unlawful restraint in the second degree are both Class A misdemeanors.

No other officers have been charged in relation to the Maio incident, Redding said.

A ‘Very Troubled Time’

Maio, a member of the department’s patrol division, joined the NHPD in 1995. He was, perhaps ironically, featured by the New Haven Independent two weeks before the incident, on March 31, as its “Cop of the Week.”

The story lauded Maio for his leadership role in handling a domestic disturbance at an apartment on Sherman Avenue alongside two junior officers. It also captured some potentially ironic — if the allegations prove true — remarks.

“These guys are coming on in a very troubled time,” Maio said, according to the Independent. “We’re unsure of our direction. We’re getting a new chief of police. Some of our policies and procedures are in need of revision. A lot of people have come under fire. The morale is questionable. This generation of officer, as smart as some of them are, is confused.”

And then, the words that may now come back to haunt him: “Don’t trade your integrity for access,” Maio advised. “Your integrity is your biggest thing.”

NHPD Reform Lagging

In an effort to overhaul the department and reduce corruption, the city contracted a group of independent consultants to draft a series of proposals for reform last year. In November 2007, the group released the final draft of its report, written in consultation with city officials and community members.

Progress has since been mixed. City Chief Administrative Officer Robert Smuts ’01 has said the department is waiting for a new chief to be installed before enacting some of the proposed major changes, such as adding two new assistant chiefs.

Redding is currently serving in a temporary capacity while the city finds a permanent replacement for former NHPD Chief Francisco Ortiz, who has since taken a job with Yale directing security for its new West Campus.

The news of Maio’s charges comes just eight days after a federal judge sentenced former NHPD detective Justen Kasperzyk to 15 months in prison for conspiracy to violate civil rights and theft of government property. And in late April, after nearly three hours of testimony from supporters, White was sentenced to 38 months.