Police Abuse

Victims Were Kids for One-Third of U.S. Police Officers Who Lost Badges for Sexual Misconduct

Officers frequently "use the power of their badge to prey on the vulnerable," finds AP analysis.

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Niccolò Caranti/Flickr

Nearly 1,000 U.S. police officers lost their badges over sexual misconduct between 2009 and 2014, according to a new analysis from the Associated Press—which calls this number "unquestionably an undercount." And around one-third of these incidents involved children or teenagers under 18-years-old, the news agency found.

Since the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics doesn't keep track, AP turned to state-by-state police decertification records. Forty-one states returned data on officers whose licenses were revoked for sexual assault or other forms of sexual misconduct. But among these, some "reported no officers removed for sexual misdeeds even though cases were identified via news stories or court records." And California and New York—states with some of the largest law-enforcement agencies in America—were among the nine states (plus the District of Columbia) that either didn't respond or did not revoke the licenses of officers fired for sex offenses.

In the cases AP did identify, more than half of the officers were found to have committed sexual assault, including child molestation, rape, and nonconsensual fondling. Another 440 officers were decertified over sexual misconduct that included voyeurism, sexting with minors, possession of child pornography, and having sex while on duty, among other things.

Guilty parties in the analysis included state and local police, sherriff's deputies, prison guards, and school cops, but not federal law-enforcement agents. "Because of gaps in the information provided by the states, it was impossible to discern any other distinct patterns, other than a propensity for officers to use the power of their badge to prey on the vulnerable," AP concluded. "Some but not all of the decertified officers faced criminal charges; some offenders were able to avoid prosecution by agreeing to surrender their certifications."

As Anthony Fisher noted in this piece on "why it's so hard to stop bad cops from getting new jobs," some 9,000 U.S. police officers were decertified between 2009 to 2014, And because there's no national tracking system, bad cops can still wind up getting hired in other states.

The AP analysis is far from the first to show sex crimes—including those against children—are no fluke among U.S. police officers. A Bowling Green State University analysis of officer-arrest data from 2005 and 2011 found sex-related cases were the third-most prevalent. A Cato Institute study of 2009 and 2010 data found sexual misconduct was the second most-common complaint against cops, behind excessive force. Or here's a sampling of officer-involved-sex-crimes that have made headlines in just the past two weeks:

Wisconsin: Milwaukee Police Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown, 24, is accused of sexually assaulting an incapacitated man, taking naked photos of people without their consent, and trying to pay for sex. Heaggan-Brown also made headlines over the summer after fatally shooting 23-year-old Sylville Smith as the man fled from a traffic stop, sparking protests around the city. Heaggan-Brown has been suspended from the Milwaukee Police Department, Chief Edward Flynn said at a press conference last week. He was charged with sexual assault, prostitution, and capturing an intimate representation without consent and is currently in jail on $100,000 bail.

California:Oakland Officer Ryan Walterhouse, 26, was arrested October 19 for allegedly paying a woman for sex and tipping her off to prostitution stings in the area—the same conduct several of his fellow officers have recently been fired for and for which one of them (Oakland patrol Officer Giovanni LoVerde) was facing criminal charges in court at the same time. Specifically, Walterhouse was found to have tipped the woman off to Oakland's FBI-led Operation Cross Country X stings.

In nearby Richmond, City Manager Bill Lindsay announced October 30 that three more police officers will be fired for involvement with the same young woman at the center of Oakland police officers' current court troubles, bringing the total to four (unidentified) officers who will be discharged. Seven other Richmond officers had been under investigation, including five who will receive official reprimands, according to Lindsay, and two who left the department for unrelated reasons before the start of the investigation.

Florida: A former officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office was arrested last week on multiple child-pornography charges. The officer, 58-year-old Michael Eugene Williams, has a criminal record in Florida's Clay County, according to The Florida Times-Union, and "a lengthy complaint history" at the sherriff's office.

And some (sadly) similar stories and roundups from the Reason vault:

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75 responses to “Victims Were Kids for One-Third of U.S. Police Officers Who Lost Badges for Sexual Misconduct

  1. Unsurprising.

  2. You have to look at the totality of the circs! Those children were asking for it!

    /Dunphy

    1. that particular wilkileaks email has been in circulation for about 2 weeks

      1. BTW, has anyone noticed the latest email scandal has taken a different tone in the media than the previous Wikileaks version?

        I suspect it’s because these emails were discovered in the course of a legitimate investigation and weren’t provided by the known Trump supporter, Putin. Basically, NPR can’t spin this into a question of Russian aggression anymore.

        1. BTW, has anyone noticed the latest email scandal has taken a different tone in the media than the previous Wikileaks version?

          I suspect it’s because these emails were discovered in the course of a legitimate investigation and weren’t provided by the known Trump supporter, Putin.

          True. Which is why even the president is trying to claim that the recent discovery of “New Emails” previously unknown to the FBI is somehow “innuendo“.

          Too slow of him, unfortunately. Everyone already knows this stuff came from Weiner, and the story is actually even-less complex and easier for the average mope to understand than the previous “Server-based” scandal.

          The Dems want to muddy the waters and pretend the FBI is now somehow hopelessly politicized, even though they just spent the first 3/4 of the year defending them as non-partisan and applauding their handling of the Server investigation. The media-machine is pretty good and pumping narratives, but narratives are like Container Ships = they have momentum, and they don’t turn on a dime. So the last-minute change to the spin doesn’t do shit.

          1. the FBI is now somehow hopelessly politicized

            Given Comey basically said Hillary was guilty of crimes that would put anyone else in prison but the FBI couldn’t touch her, I agree.

        2. Basically, NPR can’t spin this into a question of Russian aggression anymore.

          Honestly, I think they’re trying to play it as straight and narrow as possible so as not raise any “Exactly, how many perverts is Hillary associated with?” questions.

          It’s serious stuff that needs to remain firmly behind the FBI curtain until Comey can contain the Weiner in a tidy fashion [insert rubber sheet joke] and Pres. Clinton can formally pardon him (or not) 4 yrs. later.

        3. And because the person they got the emails from was a sexual harasser. (Assuming the underage girls didn’t actually request the dick pics, of course.)

          1. You know what else is fascinating? I’m trying to think of the # of 15 yr old girls I have contact with that I get the opportunity, or for any reason would have their contact information in my phone.

            Let’s see, zero, plus zero, carry the zero… yeah. zero.

            1. I’ve got a 13-year-old niece.

              But that’s it.

      2. that particular wilkileaks email has been in circulation for about 2 weeks

        That seems to be a reoccurring theme with these emails. I’ll read some blurb about how X, Y and Z was said in some email. Then about a week or two later, all these news sites will have on the front page BREAKING NEWS: X, Y and Z Was Said in Some Email!

  3. ENB you have my sympathy for trying to write that headline.

  4. Ok, before I get all excited about pedophile cops, I want to see that broken down into actual children, and teenagers. I’m not saying it’s excusable for a cop to steal services from a black market sex worker, but it’s a different crime with different possble solutions.

    I also want somebody to double check that we really ARE talking about all under-18s. I’ve gotten a little tired of “so many children killed by guns!” Which turns out to include gangbangers as old as young twenties.

    1. Ok, before I get all excited about pedophile cops

      You might want to work on your phrasing.

      1. Even the Tom of Finland-looking type?

        1. Why did you have to light the Jesse signal?

    2. Yeah I find this article to be a bit problematic for Reason, because it’s fighting/supporting two conflicting narratives. The fear of sexual child abuse and sexual misconduct in general is absurdly overblown in this country, so we shouldn’t lower our standards for judging if its a problem just because cops are doing it. It is probably far less severe than reported, but still a problem.

      1. Also, I would add that Reason (or just the author) has a distinct tendency to side with bad people because principles and/or imagination, giving repeat offenders of property and violent/sex crimes a pass because libertarianism or even just ‘teh patriarchy!’

      2. In Connecticut, William Ruscoe of the Trumbull Police began a 30-month prison term in January after pleading guilty to the sexual assault of a 17-year-old girl he met through a program for teens interested in law enforcement. Case records detailed advances that began with explicit texts and attempts to kiss and grope the girl. Then one night Ruscoe brought her back to his home, put his gun on the kitchen counter and asked her to go upstairs to his bedroom. The victim told investigators that despite telling him no “what felt like 1,000 times,” he removed her clothes, fondled her and forced her to touch him ? at one point cuffing her hands.

        My objection is to her being called a “girl” while17. She is a young woman, not a girl!

        1. Yeah, career planning, as opposed to “What you want to be when you grow up.” should be a pretty clear distinction.

    3. I want to see that broken down into actual children, and teenagers.

      And I want photos, damnit! Lots of photos!

      1. Just look in your top left kitchen drawer.

    4. I’ve gotten a little tired of “so many children killed by guns!” Which turns out to include gangbangers as old as young twenties.

      If possible, I wouldn’t mind a cross-screening against violent and/or property crimes as well. I’m a libertarian like everyone else and criminals don’t deserve any manner of sexual assault ever. However, I expect at least some of this to come down to he said/she said and while I know the officer is a violent thief, it would be nice to have an inkling about whether I’m siding with an innocent person against the officer or just picking the violent sociopath who just happens to be younger as the lesser of two evils.

      1. I hear you – I want to read the transcripts of these so-called “sexual assaults” of these so-called “children.”

      2. But we’re talking specifically about cases that ended with the officer in question losing their badge. Considering how rare it is to see any LEO face consequences for misconduct at all, I highly doubt many, if any, of these cases are the kind of murky he said/she said situations you allude to.

        1. I’m not disagreeing and am predisposed against handing officers back their badges. However, I’m also anti-collectivist and willing to consider the source both first and, in this case, second hand.

          I’m as certain that they’re all ‘guilty’ as I am that none of them were token firings or playing favorites while worse cops in the same department remained employed.

          I wouldn’t be surprised at all if (e.g.) a ‘dirty’ cop who shot an unarmed girl to death kept his badge while a ‘clean’ officer who manhandled a violent and belligerent ‘minor’ got the boot for sexually assaulting the perp. In fact, I kinda expect the system to operate that way at least part of the time.

  5. One of the officers who wasn’t counted was my partner a few years ago, when we were both working private security at a low income housing complex. he had been a Tulsa police officer, until he had an affair with a woman in return for not arresting her. the woman and her husband filed a complaint, and he resigned before Internal Affairs got involved. The last I heard, he was working private security at a hospital here in Tulsa.

    1. Had an affair? In the literal sense, as in carried on an affair, or are you using polite terminology for coercive sexual encounters?

      1. I’m glad you asked that question…

      2. That’s rhetorical, right?

      3. It’s unknown how much of an “affair” it was, since I only heard his side of the story.

  6. Nude catfighting? That’s Wednesday at Diane Reynold’s house!

    1. But enough about Chelsea Clinton and her hubby…

  7. Milwaukee Police Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown, 24, is accused of sexually assaulting an incapacitated man,

    SF’d link, ENB.

    1. Is that a story that you really want to read?

      1. I’ll take the 5th on this question.

  8. Today: Chicago cop arrested on charges he sex trafficked underage girl

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/…..story.html

  9. OT

    Has anyone seen this ?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ov5kvWSz5LM

    It’s youtube so no danger. I don’t know how to do that thingy.

    It looks legit and sounds serious but I know that is my bias showing though because I so want it to be true.

      1. Couldn’t get past “co-optation,” huh?

        1. Everyone knows it’s “co-optination”

          1. Co?ptination, thank you very much.

            1. Ooh, look at Mr. ?mlaut over here, all with his Character Map.

    1. Yes, a couple of days ago, or maybe it was actually yesterday that I first saw this. It sounds really conspiracy theory, talking about coups and stuff. A lot of people seem to believe it though. But then people believe crazy stuff all the time. No idea if it’s legit or not, or if the guy is just a conspiracy theory nut.

      1. With all the events of the last few days I can’t rule it out. Or, I guess I just don’t want to rule it out. I can’t believe that we are even this close to electing a treasonous crook to the Presidency. I has a serious sadz over the thought.

        The guesses that Comey wrote the letter to Congress because of all the internal pushback he was getting from the rank and file FBI mesh with it.

        Maybe that’s why the guy made the video ?

        I dunno. It seems that with so much bullshit going on that this would have gotten more attention.

    2. It looks legit and sounds serious but I know that is my bias showing though because I so want it to be true.

      Government is the conspiracy that we all knowingly perpetrate together.

    1. EXCLUSIVE: Anthony Weiner has checked into a SEX ADDICTION treatment center after his sexting relationship with a 15-year-old girl triggered FBI investigation of him, wife Huma Abedin and Hillary Clinton

      Classic politician move.

      “I have a disease.”

      1. If you’re a serf, you go to the cage for this. If you’re a member of the political elite, you check into a hotel.

      2. “My name’s Carlos Danger, and I’m a sex addict…”

    2. I’m sure those therapists will have Weiner well in hand.

      1. I have every hope that Weiner will harden his resolve to get to the root of this problem.

        1. It might take some work, but i believe Weiner will whip this.

    3. Hillary Clinton’s staffers knew as early as 2011 that Anthony Weiner had been messaging an underage girl, but they did nothing about it, according to WikiLeaks emails published Monday.
      John Podesta – now chair of Clinton’s presidential campaign – and Neera Tanden, another adviser, were forwarded news of an investigation into Weiner’s online contact with a 17-year-old Delaware high school student by Jennifer Palmieri, the current campaign communications director, in June 2011.

      Hey legal types, would this be failure to report a crime?

      1. The Delaware thing was investigated by the police.

      2. The Delaware thing was investigated by the police.

        1. Twice? That’s double jeopardy, man.

      3. Most certainly not!-

        Signed,
        Joe Paterno

        1. I still can’t wrap my head around that.

          How in hell could a man cover up for someone he knew was diddling young boys ?

          I’m not that friends with any body.

      4. Was Jennifer Palmieri the one conducting the investigation, or forwarding the news of the investigation?

  10. Officers frequently “use the power of their badge to prey on the vulnerable,” finds AP analysis.

    That’s the pull quote that the police academies use on their recruiting posters.

  11. So, blue sex-lives matter?

    This not even remotely surprising. BLM really missed the boat when they thought the problem with cops was all about racism. It’s really about abuse of power.

    When you give someone plenty of authority and power and take away real consequences, you will get all sorts of bad stuff: racially-motivated violence, theft (civil asset forfeiture), and sexual assault, to name a few.

    And there’s plenty more, like flash-banged babies, “assisted” suicides, bedridden elderly shot for not getting up with their hands up, etc.

  12. The key to survive being chased by pirates is to drop the dead weight holding you back. I trust that the next cinder black is a man and woman running alone.

    1. When fleeing dangerous beasts, you don’t have to be faster than the beasts themselves – you just have to outrun the guy next to you.

    2. cinder black

      You motherfucking racist.

      1. Why do cinder blocks get to be white? Huh?

        1. “Block”??? I thought you were just buying into Irish’s Final Solution!

        2. It’s a conspiracy by big cinder.

      2. It’s a John-level typo.

        1. He’s over in the “thick libertarians” thread.

  13. I’d like to slow roast me some pig on a spit tonight. The trick is to tenderize the meat with firm and continuous whipping throughout the roasting process.

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