TACOMA -- A U.S. Postal Service mail carrier pleaded not guilty in Pierce County Superior Court Thursday to charges he sexually harassed women on his routes for a decade, including instances of forcing himself into homes and grabbing women at their workplace.
Robert Joseph Taitano, 55, is charged with fourth-degree assault, harassment and burglary, Pierce County Superior Court documents show. All crimes were allegedly sexually motivated.
In court, Taitano`s attorney says his client is a retired Marine and a family man who has no criminal history.
"We are here to face these charges, we will face these charges, and we look forward to fighting these charges," the lawyer said.
Some of Taitano's loved ones sat quietly, showing their support.
Taitano has worked as a mail carrier with the United States Postal Service since at least September 2004.
According to court documents, police were called to a report of a burglary on Aug. 5 in the 3700 block of South Maintou Way in Tacoma. The victim told officers she was at home in her apartment with her young, autistic son and was getting ready for work when she heard her son say hi to someone. The victim stepped out of the bathroom, police said, to find Taitano standing inside her apartment, closing the door.
The victim recognized Taitano as her mail man. When asked what he was doing, Taitano allegedly told the victim, "your door was unlocked," court documents show. The victim pushed her son into the bathroom and reached for a large kitchen knife. As she did so, Taitano allegedly said "you'll never see me again," and left the home.
The victim told police she spoke with Taitano a few weeks prior about picking up a missed delivery. Taitano allegedly asked her numerous bizarre questions as the two spoke, including whether or not she was married and if she was the only one who lived in her apartment. Taitano also failed to produce a missed package, and it appeared he just used the missed delivery as a guise to speak with her.
Following the alleged assault, police began investigating Taitano and discovered he had numerous complaints of harassment against him while he worked for USPS.
In 2004, he allegedly approached a woman on his route and propositioned her for sex. He advanced on the woman, allegedly asking if she was afraid, and got within six inches of her until a neighbor's boyfriend intervened. He was disciplined by the USPS for his actions.
Again in 2011, he reportedly entered a woman's home against her will and demanded to be hugged. He would often show up at that woman's work and ask for a hug or kiss, documents show.
In 2013, Taitano allegedly visited a hair salon on his route. There, he tried to rub the female owner's shoulders, and reportedly asked for hugs even though the victim told Taitano she was uncomfortable. At one point while the owner was in the salon alone, Taitano allegedly grabbed her butt with both hands. He also appeared to searched through the victim's mail, making reference to certain bills she had received.
Documents show the victim reported the alleged harassment to USPS, and Taitano was removed from the salon's mail route.
A 76-year-old woman also reported Taitano's actions, telling the USPS he would say vulgar things to her while he delivered mail. According to court documents, he told the woman he wanted to "f*** her" and came to her door and yelled at her.