The Wilkes-Barre City Police Department was quick to file charges against one of their outspoken critics, Forty Fort resident Mark Robbins, back in September 2013, when a city resident alleged Robbins had phoned her spouting vulgarities. Other than her own statements, the woman offered no proof of her claims, according to the police report. Yet when the Wilkes-Barre Independent Gazette’s editor, John DiLiberto, recently alleged a mild assault by a woman — yet to be identified — on Laufer Lane (which lies between Madison and North Main streets), while he was filming and snapping photographs in the course of investigating an informant’s claims, WBPD patrolmen Steve and L. Gutkowski refused to accept his report. The two instead pressed DiLiberto in the presence of his accusers about allegations they were making against him, according to DiLiberto.
While no evidence to support the claims against DiLiberto was produced, he informed the officers — while the alleged assailant was standing in their midst — that he possessed video footage of the woman’s action against him. DiLiberto claimed she had minutes earlier attempted to take his camera while it was hanging around his neck. At no time did DiLiberto divulge his association with the Gazette, believing his actions to be well within the purview of any citizen, and so not necessitating any sort of “journalistic cover.”
The elder patrolman, Gutkowski, led the roadside interrogation of DiLiberto, having his name and information run through the county 911 system, which prompted various city residents to contact the Gazette inquiring as to why one of its staffers had been stopped by police. Following the incident, DiLiberto immediately proceeded to police headquarters to attempt, unsuccessfully, to file his assault complaint there. “Steve’s and Gutkowski’s interaction with me was thoroughly unprofessional . . . I informed them that I had video footage of [the alleged assailant’s] action. Both officers refused to accept my assault report, Gutkowski claiming further that what I had described was better termed ‘harassment’ than ‘assault.’ Gutkowski told me that I’d need to file any such assault report [two days later] on Monday with Magistrate Kane,” wrote DiLiberto in an email sent to Mayor Leighton, Chief Dessoye, and others in the city administration.
The Gazette left messages and sent an email to Wilkes-Barre Police Chief Gerard Dessoye seeking comment and resolution on Tuesday, July 25. At the time of publication, no call or email has been returned by any member of the WBPD.
Liza Prokop, spokeswoman for the city, said that she could not comment on the incident, and would leave the city’s response up to the chief.
If Patrolmen Steve and Gutkowski obtained the alleged assailant’s identity they have not divulged it to DiLiberto (nor would she reveal it to him). Her identity is needed to file private criminal complaints with the District Attorney concerning assault and filing a false report with law enforcement. If anyone can identify the young female, the alleged assailant, or her male companion in the photo below, please contact the Independent Gazette.