By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Gail Lawrence was prosecuted for telling the truth about a Palisades cop
He replies: "I DON'T CARE WHAT'S BOTHERING U THIS TIME. U R AN ADULT & agreed to it. u were not forced. it will never happen again i promise u that." He then tells her, "FUCK U." He calls her a "lunatic Jew."
Roberson then accuses her of harassment and trying to ruin him, and says, "There will be a great case for forcibly having u committed." He accuses her of blackmail and says, "I'll have the state put u in a nuthouse and u will never get out." Later, he says: "No one will ever be your friend. U will be hated by everyone u try to be friends with."
On December 5, Lawrence wrote a long e-mail to Roberson, trying to explain her thinking. "What bothers me and kills me is how you made me feel from the start and them [sic] dumped me," she writes. "I don't want to hurt you. I don't want you to lose your job and family. At the same time, I need my life back.
"It was just fulfilling a dream of being with an Israeli Jewish girl and when you got your dream come through [sic], I became useless," she writes.
On December 6, 2010, a Palisades officer attempted to pull Lawrence over. Worried about Roberson's alleged threat, she tried to flee from the officer. She was ticketed for speeding.
She finally filed a complaint against Roberson with Palisades Parkway Police lieutenant Michael Coppola on December 17, 2010.
A 130-page internal affairs report compiled by Coppola and obtained exclusively by the Voice says she came in "to discuss a problem she was having with an officer who works in our department."
In the interview, Lawrence is recorded as saying: "We started talking day and night, and we got involved. . . . We were always meeting over there by the park, and, ah, it's really not appropriate, and I was really pissed off about it. Then we continuing [sic] like being friends and arguing, and I just said I'm going to mention something about it, and he said he's going to kill me."
She named Roberson, disclosed a sexual relationship with him, and said they met at his house or the park while he was on duty. He often checked up on her, and "his wife was away, and he's a lonely person." They talked up to 10 hours a day, she said. She said Roberson had accused her of stalking him.
After taking her complaint, Coppola wrote that Lawrence "was not forthcoming with a lot of information and needed to be asked several times as well as convinced it was OK to talk about her issues."
However, even though he knew that Lawrence had phone records and text messages to back up her claim, Coppola never asked for them.
She texted Roberson to tell him she had made the complaint. Over the next two days, Roberson pleaded with her to withdraw the complaint and allegedly threatened her again.
Lawrence began to feel pressure and concern for her family's safety. She approached an officer with the Bogota, New Jersey, police department, Jonathan Misskerg, for advice on how to withdraw the complaint. She also talked with Roberson about how to "cloud" her complaint so that it would be rejected.
On December 20, 2010, she called Palisades Police lieutenant Coppola to ask him to withdraw the complaint.
Lawrence told Coppola, "I don't want anyone to get in trouble because of me." But Coppola told her that it was too late. He still had to go ahead with the investigation, saying, "You can't unring a bell."
On December 21, Coppola interviewed Roberson. Roberson flatly denied Lawrence's allegations and told Coppola that he had been trying to help her with her psychological issues, but she became infatuated with him and pestered him with phone calls and messages. "When I tried to break it off with her, she instituted a series of threats," he told Coppola. "I wanted nothing from her."
A pattern developed, he claimed, during which he tried to get away from her, and she kept pursuing him. "I listen to her, and then I start to get annoyed at all of these intrusions, so I stopped answering her calls and messages," he claimed.
Roberson denied doing anything improper. He specifically denied having sexual contact with Lawrence.
"Have you ever kissed her? Have you ever had sex with her?" Coppola asked.
"No," Roberson replied, jumping out his chair indignantly. "I've never had any romantic, physical, sexual involvement with her, no."
Roberson said Coppola was out to get him.
Coppola replied, "If I wanted to get rid of you, I'd probably run out of paper writing up shit on things that I've seen, heard, watched you do, how you act, and all these other fucking things, OK?
"I could probably do it to you and probably about everyone else here," he added, referring to every police officer in the department. "All right, 'cause nobody toes the line around here the way they should."
At the end of the interview, Roberson was ordered not to speak with Lawrence again.
Coppola then asked Lawrence to talk with him. They parried over her complaint, with Lawrence giving evasive, vague answers. In an effort to withdraw her complaint—which Coppola said she could not do—she said this: "Let's say I lied about everything."