No one is disputing that Toledo Police Officer Michael E. Moore, Sr., was good at taking drugs off the streets.
At issue this week in Lucas County Common Pleas Court is whether Mr. Moore, 45, paid a 14-year-old girl to have sex with him on at least two occasions between August, 2015, and November, 2016.
Frank Spryszak, an assistant county prosecutor, told the jury during his opening statement Monday that the victim in the case was “an underage prostitute” who Mr. Moore met through one of his confidential informants.
“The alleged victim in this case has problems and you’re going to be exposed to those,” he said. “She has flaws. What we’re asking you to keep in mind is that she’s a kid and when she first met the defendant she was 13. And what the state is going to present to you is that when she was 14 years old, the defendant was paying her for sex.”
Mr. Moore, who took himself off the city payroll just prior to his indictment in November, 2016, is charged with two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and two counts of compelling prostitution.
His attorney, Lorin Zaner, told the jury Mr. Moore “did not have sexual relations” with the troubled young woman, who he contended was “looking for her payday.”
“The bottom line is, she’s a liar. She’s a thief. She’s an extortionist,” Mr. Zaner said. “She will make things up. She’ll say anything in order to survive the terrible life that she’s had, including making false allegations against Michael Moore, a decorated detective in the vice squad.”
Mr. Spryszak said the jury will see text messages of Mr. Moore’s and hear from the victim who will tell them that she had sex with Mr. Moore at an apartment that is leased by a fellow officer.
That officer, Sgt. Jerome Elmore, was among the first witnesses called to the stand. He said he worked with Mr. Moore and considered him a friend.
Sergeant Elmore said he rented a Rugby Drive apartment and gave Mr. Moore the key so he could use it at times. He said Mr. Moore stayed there for a month or so when he was having problems at home.
Prosecutors allege he also took the teenage girl there to have sex.
In a phone conversation with Mr. Moore last month, Sergeant Elmore testified, Mr. Moore apologized for drawing him into the situation.
“He said, ‘I had her over and I’m sorry,’” Sergeant Elmore said.
“Who?” Mr. Spryszak asked.
“He didn’t say who. He said, ‘I had her over and I’m sorry,’” he replied. “And I said what the [expletive], Mike?’”
“And it’s this person involved in this case, correct?” Mr. Spryszak asked.
“Um… yes,” Sergeant Elmore replied.
The trial is expected to last much of the week in the courtroom of Judge Michael Goulding.