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Sawicki Law Firm Blog

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Cases of Sexual Misconduct by Police Are on the Rise

What can be done about sexual assault?

Last December, a former Oklahoma City police officer was convicted on 18 charges of sexually assaulting 13 women. While his conviction does not represent the law enforcement community, there are other cases of male police officers using their position of authority to victimize women. Across the nation as well as in the state of Texas, cases of police officers being charged with, or convicted of, sexual assault are on the rise.

For example, in June 2016, an Amarillo police officer was fired after he responded to a 911 call at the home of a victim of domestic violence. Not only did the officer not help the woman, he raped her.
The aggravated assault charges, unfortunately, were not an isolated incident. These accusations surface more frequently than one would believe, not only in Texas, but across the country.

Other cases of misconduct are not as dramatic as these. In December, a trooper was fired by the Texas Department of Public Safety after he stopped a woman for speeding and then offered her$300 to have sex with him. Then there is the case of a former Odessa police officer who was convicted on five counts of improper sexual activity after he confessed to groping five women he pulled over for traffic stops.

These cases are often referred to a grand jury, but grand juries are very reluctant to indict police officers, as was the case with the Amarillo officer. Moreover, criminal convictions are rare, although police departments do take disciplinary measures.

In a recent study recently reported by the Associated Press, over a 6 year period, nearly 1,000 officers had their licenses to work in law enforcement revoked because of sexual misconduct. In addition, others were fired, but their licenses were not revoked. That being said, these 1,000 cases involve a small percentage of the 1.1 million police in the United States.

Even if these cases do not reflect the conduct of most police officers, they are still an abuse of power that damages a lot of people. The victims, of course, suffer not only from the physical assault, but from the resulting emotional trauma. Moreover, the law enforcement community is tarnished by these incidents. And the public at large is put at risk, becoming fearful of being pulled over by the police or making a 911 call in an emergency.

In spite of the facts that grand juries are not inclined to indict police officers, and criminal convictions are rare, there are other legal remedies. If you have been the victim of sexual assault, you should consult with an attorney who can determine if you may be entitled to monetary compensation.

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