Just in time for the first day of former Police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw’s sexual assault trial, the Associated Press published a disturbing investigative report on the prevalence on sexual misconduct from our nation’s police force.
The AP’s investigation found that 1,000 officers had their badges stripped for rape, sodomy and other sexual assault, including possession of child porn, propositioning citizens or having consensual, illicit sex in 41 states between 2009 and 2014 while they were on the clock.
The report notes that it doesn’t include all sexual misconduct, as it only counts officers that have had licenses stripped. This practice is not conducted nationwide. During interviews, lawyers and police chiefs also revealed that departments frequently keep cops’ sexual crimes under wraps to minimize their liability.
The AP’s findings are more relevant than ever. Not only has the Cato Institute, a think tank based in D.C., concluded that sexual assault is the second-most common complaint made against police officers, but the issue of sexual assault has mysteriously evaded the public eye in the wake of media attention and protests against police brutality.
There was a task force formed in 2007 to address sexual offenses by police officers. However, there still is no hard number on how many officers have been accused of sexual misconduct. The Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics does not track cop arrests and states are not required to do so.
The AP conducted the report by reviewing 41 states’ records on cop decertification. Its reporters then compared the cases to the Department of Justice’s definitions of sexual coercion, including intercourse, sodomy, molestation, incest, fondling and attempted rape. The remaining nine states either declined to officer records or did not revoke licenses for misconduct.
Officers at varying levels including state and local police, sheriff’s deputies, prison guards and school resource officers are indicated in the report. Common victims were described as drivers that were randomly pulled over, children whom were instructed to strip for drug searches, police interns, prison inmates and socioeconomically disadvantaged women.
As raised in the 2011 International Association of Chiefs of Police, law enforcement officials have expressed concern of whether job conditions encourage sexual misconduct from offenders on the force, given their officers’ power, independence, off-hours and engagement with vulnerable civilians. It has been suggested that there are more thorough screenings of job applicants for the force including rigorous background checks on individuals’ records, polygraph exams and social media.
There is a rarely-tapped history of sexual assault by the police against Black women. Detailed in the book, At The Dark End Of The Street by Danielle L. McGuire, Joan Little broke ground in 1975 when she became the first woman to be acquitted of murder as a form of self-defense against sexual assault. Little famously killed Prison Guard Clarence Alligood after he attempted to assault her in her cell at Beaufort County Jail.
Of course, this is an ongoing issue. Just earlier this summer, Charnesia Corley made headlines when she complained of being sexually assaulted by cops in Texas who had wrongfully accused her of marijuana possession.
Today, Holtzclaw’s alleged rape victims began testifying in court. Holtzclaw, who is facing 36 counts including rape, sexual battery and forced oral sodomy, has plead not guilty. He was fired from his post in January. Holtzclaw had been arrested in August 2014 after an investigation was waged for the seven victims that had come forward at the time. An additional six women came forward with stories following his arrest. All of his victims were Black women from as young as 17 to 57-years-old.
[SOURCE: The Associated Press]