EXCLUSIVE: Accuser speaks out against officer charged with sexual assault
Undressing during FaceTime calls, suggestive text messages, knives and drug paraphernalia in his desk drawer. That's just some of the evidence against a former school resource officer charged Tuesday with 4 felonies and 2 misdemeanors for sexual misconduct involving children.
Some of the alleged victims are former students at Eastern High School. The accused is former Lansing police officer Matthew Priebe. One of his accusers is a young woman who first met Priebe during her junior year at Eastern. She first shared her story with News 10 back in September. We protected her identity then, but she's decided to come forward publicly to help others.
Athziry Pilar, who is 19, says she's not afraid anymore. She granted an exclusive on-camera interview to News 10 as a way to encourage other victims of sexual assault to come forward. It is something she was afraid to do when she says school resource officer Matthew Priebe gained her trust and began making sexual advances toward her.
Pilar said, "I really didn't know what to do. But who was I going to report this to, the police? You know, because he is a police officer."
Pilar was a junior in high school at the time.
Now, more than three years later, she's still struggling with family relationships marred by the secret she kept from them.
"There has been a lot of guilt that my parents hold; there's been definitely plenty of guilt that I have held because I didn't come forward. It hurts because to see that there have been, there are other victims, and I didn't come forward immediately, I do hold a lot of guilt for that," she said.
That pain came full circle Tuesday morning when Pilar saw officer Priebe's picture show up on her Facebook feed in a news article outlining the charges against him.
"I just started crying instantly and they were tears of joy because I was afraid that this was going to get swept under the rug and not much was going to be done," she said. "So I am really thankful that he is facing charges."
Those charges not only involved her accusations, but other classmates at Eastern High School.
She was not aware of the other girls until she says someone spoke up. Pilar hopes that by speaking out, she can help others.
"Basically, to give other girls encouragement that its okay. It's okay to come forward because I know what it's like to hide and to not ... and feel like you have nobody," she said.
Pilar says she did tell a teacher at Eastern about the abuse. She says that teacher told an administrator and nothing was done.
Lansing Police Chief Mike Yankowski says his department will be keeping close communication with victims in the case.
"We've had some communication with the victims in the spring of 2018, we will continue to have that interaction with those families. We can't lose sight with those involved in this."
Yankowski also said that people should not judge his department by one officer's actions.
"When we talk about the actions of one, we should never lump that into the entire organization, and I think that's what is important here."
Matthew Priebe is free on bond. He's due back in court on March 1.
"There has been a lot of guilt that my parents hold, there's been definitely plenty of guilt that I have held because I didn't come forward. It hurts because to see that there have been, there are other victims, and I didn't come forward immediately, I do hold a lot of guilt for that." -- Athziry Pilar