By Alexis Krell – June 13, 2015
For more than 10 years, women on Robert Taitano’s mail route in Tacoma told the U.S. Postal Service the substitute carrier was creepy or worse.
They said he groped them and made sexual comments. He entered their homes and businesses without permission. Once, before he delivered a Victoria’s Secret catalog, he wrote: “You would look good in this.”
Nevertheless, the Postal Service never told Tacoma police of the allegations from more than a dozen women. After police investigated, Taitano was charged with assault, harassment and burglary.
Police started investigating Taitano, 55, in 2014 after a woman on his route reported to police that the mail carrier had entered her home without permission and asked whether she was married.
During the investigation, Detective Roland Hayes learned the Postal Service had gotten more than 12 formal and informal complaints about Taitano since at least the early 2000s.
At least nine formal complaints appear to have been made directly to the Postal Service. Others appear to have been made by women informally to another mail carrier.
Hayes wrote in a report that he didn’t understand why the federal agency hadn’t reported the alleged crimes to police.
“It is unknown why the United States Post Office did not forward this information to the Tacoma Police Department at the time of these potential criminal incidents,” the detective wrote.
“It is also unknown why the managers that supervised Taitano appeared to have no knowledge of prior incidents when the documentation was present in their internal records.”
Meosha Turner, whose complaint to police about Taitano prompted the investigation, is critical of the Postal Service as well.
“People reported to the post office, expecting them to take it seriously, and they don’t,” she said in an interview with The News Tribune. “They don’t even take the extra step to report it to the police department.”
Asked by The News Tribune why the agency had not alerted police to the women’s complaints, Ernie Swanson, a local spokesman for the Postal Service replied via email:
“I cannot discuss Mr. Taitano’s current status with the U.S. Postal Service due to the Privacy Act. It is the general policy of the Postal Service to place employees off duty without pay during the pendency of criminal proceedings.”
After Hayes’ investigation, Taitano was charged with residential burglary, harassment and fourth-degree assault, all crimes alleged by women on his route. He is awaiting trial after pleading not guilty and posting $35,000 bail in October.
His attorney, Michael Stewart, declined to comment, saying it is his general practice not to discuss ongoing cases.