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An Erie County grand jury is investigating a female Buffalo police officer's claim that a former Southside Station lieutenant sexually assaulted her during a late-night patrol two months ago, law enforcement sources said today.

The female officer, who is on stress-related sick leave, has already testified twice before the panel.

The lieutenant, now assigned to relief circuit duty, has appeared before the grand jury once, according to sources close to the probe who spoke on the guarantee of anonymity.

Based on Police Department files submitted to prosecutors in late November, Erie County District Attorney Kevin M. Dillon decided several weeks ago that the complaint merited review by the grand jury, according to the sources.

Dillon and Sheila A. DiTullio, chief of his Grand Jury Bureau, both declined to comment on the case. Thomas H. Burton, attorney for the lieutenant and the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association, also declined to comment.

Burton had previously said the lieutenant, a married 18-year police veteran with four children, "absolutely denies" the sex complaint.

Contacted today, Burton said, "I acknowledge nothing." The Buffalo News has decided to withhold the names of the two officers because no criminal charges have been lodged.

The female officer officer told departmental investigators in late November that the lieutenant sexually assaulted her while on parol Nov. 13.

The female officer initially asked only for a departmental inquiry, but changed her mind after talking to her parents and asked prosecutors to file criminal charges against the lieutenant.

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