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Sexual Abuse by Law Enforcement

A recent news report detailing a shocking abuse of power by New York City police officers sparked a new law stating that sex between a police officer and an individual in police custody is considered rape in the third degree. The law was passed following the arrest of two NYPD officers for rape, sexual assault and kidnaping. The officers had sex in the back of a police van with an 18-year-old woman who was charged with marijuana possession. The charges were later dropped and the officers were charged with lesser crimes. At the time of the incident, it was not a crime for an officer to have sex with an individual in his custody.

While this story of sexual abuse prompted widespread outrage, research on police sexual misconduct reveals that sexual assault by law enforcement officers is a systemic issue. According to a 2015 investigation, an officer is accused of sexual misconduct at least every five days. In 60 percent of these cases, an officer was convicted of a crime or faced other repercussions. Another study funded by the National Institute of Justice revealed that in more than 6,700 officer arrests for sexual misconduct over a seven year period, half of those arrests related to incidents involving minors.

The public relies on police and law enforcement to provide protection and assistance. Law enforcement officers exercise tremendous power, and in some cases, they can abuse their authority. Police brutality and misconduct has been on the rise in recent years. Regardless of whether you have been arrested or questioned in connection with a crime, police officers are not permitted to engage in conduct that is sexually abusive or inappropriate.

In situations where a law enforcement official has committed sexual harassment, fear and intimidation may prevent victims from reporting the conduct. Studies have shown that officers that engage in sexual misconduct often prey on weak women, such as survivors of domestic violence, or women who are not likely to be believed, such as drug users or those involved in sex trades. Moreover, women who have been abused have nowhere to go to report the abuse other than other police officers- potential colleagues of the perpetrator.

If you have been sexually abused by a law enforcement official, the perpetrator and the police department could be liable for failing to protect you while in police custody. The failure to properly respond to allegations of sexual misconduct by an officer could also impose liability on the officer’s employer. Victims of sexual abuse can bring actions against their perpetrators and the institutions that protected them under new laws passed in New York, New Jersey and other states that extend the statute of limitations for a specified period of time.

Levy Konigsberg LLP is a nationally recognized law firm that has recovered millions of dollars in settlements for victims of sexual abuse. If you or a member of your family has been the victim of sexual misconduct by a police or law enforcement officer, please contact our lawyers for a free consultation by calling (800) 315-3806 or submit an email inquiry.

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