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Sex Crimes Common From U.S. Police, Finds Year-Long AP Investigation

Nearly 1,000 officers were fired for sex crimes or sexual misconduct from 2009 through 2014, and a third of the incidents involved children.

Beautifully Mad/FlickrBeautifully Mad/FlickrThe Connecticut police officer who handcuffed and sexually assaulted a teen he met through a program for youth interested in becoming cops. The Florida officer who threatened more than a dozen immigrant men with deportation if they didn't sexually service him. The Oklahoma City officer who extorted sex from women he pulled over for traffic stops. These are just three of many, many sex crimes committed by U.S. police officers over the past several years. A new Associated Press investigation has turned up hundreds of officers fired for sexual offenses ranging from rape to voyeurism to possession of child pornography, and police policies both official and unofficial that make life easy for sex-predator cops. 

"It's happening probably in every law enforcement agency across the country," Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino, who helped study the issue for the International Association of Chiefs of Police, told AP. "It's so underreported, and people are scared that if they call and complain about a police officer, they think every other police officer is going to be then out to get them."

From 2009 through 2014, nearly 1,000 U.S. police officers have lost their licenses due to sex offenses or sexual misconduct, according to AP reporters Matt Sedensky and Nomaan Merchant. Their review "at once represents both the most complete examination of such wrongdoing and a sure undercount of the problem," they write.

Nine states and the District of Columbia either declined to provide the AP with records on officer decertifiation or said they didn't keep such records (both New York and California falling into that latter category). Other states provided information showing no officers were fired for sexual assault or misconduct, even though such cases could be found in state court records or news accounts. 

Overall, what the AP did find was:

  • 550 U.S. police officers fired for sexual assault, "including rape, pat-downs that amounted to groping, and shakedowns in which citizens were extorted into performing favors to avoid arrest," in 2009-2014
  • 440 more officers fired for other sex crimes or sexual misconduct, including possession of child pornography, "voyeurism in the guise of police work," and having sex while on-duty

About one-third of these 990 offenses involved teenagers or children. "Overall, the victims were overwhelmingly women and included some of society's most vulnerable—the poor, the addicted, the young," Sedensky and Merchant write.

Others had criminal records, sometimes used by the officers as a means for exploitation. Some were victims of crime who, seeking help, found themselves again targeted by men in uniform.

Sex workers are particularly vulnerable to this kind of targeting and abuse. I recently set to cataloguing the past year's worth of cop crimes involving prostitution—from things like soliciting sex while on duty to assaulting and extorting sex workers—and found ample material to work with.

The number of state and local police, sheriff's deputies, prison guards, and school resource officers fired for sex crimes "represent a fraction of the hundreds of thousands whose jobs are to serve and protect," note Sedensky and Merchant. "Nevertheless, the AP's findings suggest that sexual misconduct is among the most prevalent complaints against law officers."

A comprehensive study from The Cato Institute a few years ago found that sexual assault/sexual misconduct were the second most prevalent complaint against police officers in 2010, representing 9.3 percent of all complaints. More than half of these complaints involved children or teenagers.

Cato's National Police Misconduct Reporting Project provides a daily report on officer misconduct and abuse, including ample sex-related offenses. A few examples:

Spokane, Washington: The department was broadly accused by the county sheriff of destroying evidence in an alleged sexual assault of a county deputy by a city officer. ow.ly/U2NSV

Los Angeles County, California: A deputy was arrested for child molestation.ow.ly/U2PGj

Boynton Beach, Florida (First reported 10-31-14): The City tentatively settled a lawsuit with a woman who accused an officer of rape. The settlement is for over $800,000. The officer was recently acquitted in a criminal trial.  ow.ly/U3eIK

Live Oak, Florida: An officer was arrested for possession of child pornography. ow.ly/TZwaM

Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District (Houston, Texas): A now-former officer was sentenced to one year in jail for pulling a female motorist over and asking for sexual favor in exchange for leniency on a minor drug charge. ow.ly/TQnLx

Maypearl, Texas (First reported 07-16-15): The now-former chief was indicted on multiple charges involving sex crimes against minors. He also faces a separate civil suit for bullying. ow.ly/THk2g

Henderson, Texas: An officer has been accused of sex crimes against a child. ow.ly/THlWM

Fort Smith, Arkansas: An officer resigned after his arrest for sexual solicitation. ow.ly/THnIk

All of the above incidents come from the nine-day period ending October 30, 2015. 

A second Associated Press report on sex-crime-committing cops, this one from Martha Irvine and Scott Smith, looked at how policy flaws, technological glitches, and the current culture of policing allows predator cops to thrive. The reporters blame numerous "critical breakdowns in policies and procedures," including "a lack of supervision and training fueled by budget cuts; misuse or malfunction of electronic systems meant to monitor officers; warning signs about potential misconduct that was overlooked; and a good old boy culture in which inappropriate behavior was ignored or even condoned." 

The AP's third installment (again from Merchant and Sendansky) further explores how lax police policies lead to sex-predator officers. "Six states, including New York and California, have no decertification authority over officers who commit misconduct," the note. And even in states where police standards agencies can revoke officer licenses, many rely on local departments to volunteer info about officer arrests, which often doesn't happen, or can only decertify an officer after a criminal conviction. 

Photo Credit: Beautifully Mad/Flickr

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  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Nearly 1,000 offices were fired for sex crimes or sexual misconduct from 2009 through 2014, and a third of the incidents involved children.

    The whole office?

    But serially, do I just lose my job if I molest children?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    For a law enforcement hero, losing that badge is the same as an ordinary like you having a stay at the greybar hotel.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Good point. I should have known better. Kicking a pubsec official to the private sector is punishment enough. I mean, look how miffed Anthony Weiner was when he lost his job, and how hard he scrabbled to get it back. I guess there's a real draw to sacrifice and service to the community.

  • sarcasmic||

    Being a cop isn't just a job. It's a way of life. You can do anything you want. After all, who's going to stop you? The cops?

    Take away that badge and you take away the person's entire identity.

  • This Machine Chips Fascists||

    +1 little people

  • ||

    $800,000 settlements paid out by the municipality are quite the perk. I wonder if I could talk my employer into stashing mine somewhere and letting me take it with me when I leave their employ without having raped anyone.

  • ChicagoTom||

    I just cant get enough of that New Professionalism!!!!!

  • sarcasmic||

    Just a few bad apples. Nothing to see. Move along.

  • Hasdrubal||

    I'm curious about how this compares to the rest of the population. 1,000 incidents over the course of 5 years sounds like a lot. But there are over a million police officers in the country, so I would expect to find at least 1,000 incidents of just about anything you care to imagine among that population over the course of five years. So, a.) how does this compare to a similar population of non police officers, and b.) if you extrapolate a higher rate based on the assumed ratio of reported to non reported incidents, how does that range compare to the general population? [Extra credit c.) how does this compare to what we know about the rate of sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests?]

    This is an important story, but it doesn't give me enough information to draw a conclusion one way or the other.

  • Domina Elle||

    Go to policeprostitutionandpolitics.com where you will find several lists. 1. Cops, DA's, agents who are guilty of sexually assaulting children (theres literally a new cases or cases EVERY DAY) 2. Law enforcement guilty of murdering or raping sex workers. 3. Law enforcement guilty of domestic abuse including murder. Compare these lists with the law enforcement census. You can also view specific case details and see how common it is for these sub humans to get super lenient sentences for their crimes and in some cases judges who let offender cops off lightly themselves ended up charged with rape child porn etc.

    You will also find DOJ and FBI data allowing you to compare various crime stats such as arrests vs convictions for rape, all sorts of interesting info.

    That data was lovingly put together by an ex LAPD turned sex worker and sex worker rights activist Norma Jean almodovar who is one of my SHEROES!!

    No it's not a few bad apples. Hardly. It's an environment of abuse with zero accountability. You wanna rape? Commit various crimes with impunity? Just be a cop. That's the message I get out of it.

  • ||

    people are scared that if they call and complain about a police officer, they think every other police officer is going to be then out to get them.

    They're right to be scared, and they don't just "think" the'll be targeted, they probably will be.

  • AlgerHiss||

    Cops and sexual chicanery/buffoonery can be quite entertaining at times. Remember the Broward County Sheriff deputy Jeff Willets and his wife Kathy?

    That pair was off the charts bat-crap crazy.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Tarantino should mention this in his "apology."

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Has that happened yet? I know it was "scheduled"

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    He should listen to his friend Jamie Foxx and tell the pigs to take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    This has got to be a higher offense rate than the population as a whole. Right?

  • Hugh Akston||

    While I'm sure the AP reporters are right that all of these problems could be solved with more funding for supervision, more funding for training, more funding for equipment, and more funding for the resources to ask for more funding, I wonder how much the current legal climate has to do with the cops being able to get away with this crap.

    I mean, if the law didn't allow for draconian punishments for nonviolent offenses in the first place, maybe cops wouldn't be able to threaten to ruin peoples' lives unless they give them a rimmer.

  • BearOdinson||

    I tend to agree with most of the commentariat (woodchippers and all). Especially with all the damn dog shootings and blown SWAT/no-knock raids. However, let me play Devil's Advocate for a moment on this particular issue:
    As Playa asked, how does the "sexual offense" rate of police compare to the population as a whole? (I don't ask to let anyone off the hook, put I think it is important to understand the relative rates.)

    Does decertification automatically imply guilt, even when there is no conviction?

    In reference to the CATO study from 2010, it makes perfect sense that "sexual offenses" were the 2nd highest complaint. Half were children and teens. So a 15 year old prostitute claims the cop touched her or wanted a free BJ counts as a child sexual offense? Other than the big ones (rape, sodomy etc.) much of what can be called sexual offenses are completely unverifiable. So in today's PC environment so departments may make a lot of hay out of fradulent claims.

  • sarcasmic||

    how does the "sexual offense" rate of police compare to the population as a whole?

    I think that would be impossible to calculate, being that so many departments don't report it when these things happen, and the incidents that are reported most likely represent only a tiny fraction of what is actually going on.

  • BearOdinson||

    I actually do tend to agree with you. It is just I tend to have a reaction anytime anyone refers to an "epidemic" of something.

  • sarcasmic||

    I would think the incidents of this in cops would be much greater than the general population. Think about it. Someone has to be a dominant asshole to seek out the job, and a dominant asshole is more likely to force people to commit sexual acts than a normal person. Not only that, but what is the victim to do? Call the cops?

  • ||

    So in today's PC environment so departments may make a lot of hay out of fradulent claims.

    If only there were a union to protect these poor souls from wrongful prosecution. Maybe an attorney or two who was actually on their side and willing to work with the departments to clear up these simple misunderstandings...

    Seriously, I can't imagine the motive that would move a PD to wrongfully fire an officer that wasn't crossing the blue line.

  • BearOdinson||

    In all fairness, you are probably correct. But I can imagine Bill O'Reilly (in between fellating police officers) asking these same questions.

  • Domina Elle||

  • B. Woodrow Chippenhaus||

    Nine states and the District of Columbia either declined to provide the AP with records on officer decertifiation or said they didn't keep such records (both New York and California falling into that latter category). Other states provided information showing no officers were fired for sexual assault or misconduct, even though such cases could be found in state court records or news accounts.

    However, I'm sure the respective sex-offender registries of those states are meticulously accurate.

  • The artist known Dunphy||

    Not surprising considering our access to kids in vulnerable circs

    Also, while the age of consent for example in WA is 16 w/o age differential (14 if within certain months of each other) , those in 'power positions' like a DARE officer constitutes sexual assault even w 'consent' under 18

    This holds for teachers here too

    Laws vary state to state but let's remember Reason does a lot of wanking about 'victimless' statutory sex crimes

    They apply to cops too

    Many cops are boba fide sex criminals

    Many others commit victimless crimes involving sex for pay or statutory offenses that are victimless

    But yea, cops (male and female ime) are heavily alpha and sexualised

    Not surprising at all that sex crimes are common

    Let's also remember - thanks to body cams , many ALLEGED sex crimes by cops are going to be more easily disproven when bogus

    A cop was recently cleared of allegedly raping a DUI arrestee when body cam proved she fabricated it

    Real cop sex predators deserve stiff (huh huh) punishment

    Those who falsely accuse deserve the same

    But again, with the highly alpha, testosterone fueled and highly sexualised world cops live in, it does not surprise me at all
    That some would commit these crimes

  • Domina Elle||

  • Domina Elle||

    Read the case details
    http://policeprostitutionandpo.....s_all/COPS DAs JUDGES RAPE EXTORT PROSTITUTES RUN PROSTITUTION RINGS/Cops_rape_solicit_pimp_prostitutes.pdf

  • sarcasmic||

    I find it extremely difficult to believe that the cops who pull this shit don't brag about it to other officers. Yet it is always a "shock" when these types of allegations come to light. Yeah right. Everyone on the force knows what's going on, and who is doing what. To serve and protect... each other.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Hey! It's stressful making examples of people who are slow to obey laws passed by consensus on both sides of the aisle. So what's a little initiation of force among co-workers anyway? Besides, this victimization balances the scales on those victimless crimes. By victimizing whoever elected officious brand as criminals, these hard-working troopers are taking the victimless out of victimless crime. This is brought to you as a public service by the incumbency, so show some gratitude.

  • Robert||

    I could never have parsed that headline by itself.

  • woodNfish||

    Every one of those pigs should have been prosecuted. The fact that it didn't happen proves the entire legal system is corrupt to the core.

  • Domina Elle||

    http://policeprostitutionandpo....._PORN/2011 Clyde Franklin Sanders Jr | Sheriff Deputy Pike County OH/No prison time for former Pike County chief deputy | The Chillicothe Gazette | chillicothegazette.com.pdf

  • Domina Elle||

    Dang it not sure why that link didn't work but it took you to a case regarding a police chief who had raped a three-year-old twice but was given probation!

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    Now, if we only knew how many journalists suffered the same fate for similar offenses?

  • Abe Froman||

    Cops are the lowest form of humanity. They are stinking, rotten, vile, perverted monsters.

    There is no possibility of serious and widespread reform by relying on people within the existing institutions of justice to alter the system. They have no incentive to go against their peers. They have every incentive to conform. Furthermore, they belong to a culture that has instilled in them the perverse ways of thinking that are responsible for the ills of the system. They have been trained to defend the system and police. It’s absurd to think that they are about to tell it like it is and suggest serious and far-reaching alterations.
    Michael S. Rozeff Oct 11, 2015

  • Hank Phillips||

    Aw... I'm sure their motives were noble and unselfish.

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