Police brutality has been in the national headlines for the past several months. But it may surprise some people to learn that sexual misconduct is the second most common complaint against police officers, behind only excessive force. According to reasearch by the Associated Press, about 1,000 law enofrcement officials lost their badges due to rape, sodomy, sexual assault, possession of child pornography, as well as sexual misconduct on the job. The AP further explained that the actual number of officers who had their license removed may be much higher in that some states do not move to strip offending officers of their badges.
It is well undestood that sexual battery is often particularly devastating when committed by an authority figure due to the betrayal of trust and imblance of power. Police officers are the ultimate “authority figure.” Sexual violence and misconduct committed by police officers traumatize victims and make communities distrustful of law enforcement. Abuses by officers, as well as the failure of police departments to properly investigate and remove offending officers, also undermine efforts to combat rape and sexual assault in society as a whole. Sexual violence and misconduct by law enforcement need to become critical parts of the national conversation around efforts to improve responsible policing.
A combination of conditions can enable abuse. Victims in many instances are seen as lacking credibility, because they are poor, young, using drugs or holding criminal records. Many victims, out of fear of retaliation from other officers, do not file reports. Loose laws, lax hiring procedures and long processes for decertification allow officers accused of sexual offenses to transfer from one job to another without reprecussion. According to the AP, about 20 states decertify an officer only in the event of a criminal conviction. Nine states told the AP they either did not decertify officers for misconduct or declined to provide information.
Farmer Jaffe Weissing attorney Adam Horowitz is experienced in handling claims of sexual misconduct by law enforcement officers. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a sexual battery by a member of law enforcement, please email attorney Adam Horowitz at [email protected] or call our law firm at (954) 524-2820.