Police Misconduct Includes Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault
Police officers are inherently in a position of authority and control. This is necessary for them to do their job. When they exceed moral and ethical boundaries, it is wrong and illegal. When they exceed those boundaries by sexually abusing someone, the wrong of police misconduct becomes even more grievous.
Sexual Misconduct by Officers
Sadly, however, stories of sexual misconduct by officers is not rare. A story in the Washington Post tells of a woman put in the back of a police vehicle after being arrested for having illegal prescription medication. The woman, who was only 18, was forced to perform sexual acts on the officer after other officers instructed her friends not to follow them. She was threatened with criminal charges if she did not comply with the officers’ demands.
Sexual Assault is Too Common
According to the Washington Post officer, studies have shown that every five days there is an accusation that an officer engaged in sexual misconduct. Thankfully in a majority of the cases, the officers are convicted of the crime, but that’s of little consolation to the victims.
Another study of 500 officers who were arrested found that a fifth of the arrests involved forceable rape, and another fifth involved sexual, unwanted fondling.
The National Institute of Justice came to an even more heinous conclusion, finding that of over 6,000 officer arrests, half involved sexual misconduct against minors, and a separate study found that sexual misconduct is the second most common form of police misconduct. Some of the victims were not suspects or arrestees, but people aspiring to become officers themselves, such as those in youth job-shadowing programs.
Why Sexual Assault is So Common
The consensus among experts is that sexual abuse is so prevalent because departments are doing little to train officers or warn them against sexual abuse. This, combined with the fact that many victims don’t come forward, has put sexual misconduct on the backburner. Unlike racial profiling or physical police brutality, which tend to make the evening news, and which police departments have taken proactive steps to avoid, sexual misconduct is hardly mentioned in police trainings.
Many victims also may incorrectly feel that they are to blame. Many may have committed crimes, and performed the sexual acts “voluntarily,” at the request of officers and in an effort to avoid criminal charges, and thus, may not realize that they are in fact victims of wrongful sexual assaults.
Unlike shootings and beatings, most incidents of sexual misconduct do not occur in public, in front of crowds or in places where videotape exists. Many victims may feel that if they do come forward it will be “her word against his word.”
It is true that it is always more difficult to prove an event that happens in private, but it is not impossible. Sexual misconduct by an officer is police brutality, the same as any other type of brutality, and federal law protects you if you have been victimized sexually by a police officer.
Don’t allow abuse by law enforcement to go unpunished. Contact the Alabama police misconduct attorneys at Lasseter Law Firm today to discuss whether you have a cause of action for damages.