A Prince George’s County police officer is facing rape and sexual assault charges after allegations surfaced that he ordered a woman in a car that he had pulled over for a traffic stop late one night to drive behind a nearby store for sexual purposes, the Baltimore Sun has reported.
The officer was on duty in uniform and driving a police car. He left the scene after a woman who had been called by the victim showed up. The witness’ statement and surveillance video supported the victim’s story, the Baltimore Sun has reported
A recently enacted law specifically makes it a crime for police officers to have sex with people in Maryland police officer custody. Gov. Larry Hogan signed the bill earlier this year. A law enforcement officer may not engage in sexual contact, vaginal intercourse or a sexual act with a person in the custody of the law enforcement officer, the law says. The law imposes a maximum three-year prison sentence and a $3,000 fine on officers who violate the statute.
The measure was proposed after a Maryland lawmaker reviewed a U.S. Department of Justice investigation of the Baltimore Police Department and saw that the investigation had reported complaints that officers were pressuring people in their custody for sex. The politician said the investigation showed a need for tougher laws to be applied to such situations. The new legislation is expected to encourage more people to report police misconduct. If police officers try to argue the sex was consensual, the new law makes it clear that such conduct is illegal.
The bill passed both the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates unanimously.
But, as reported by BuzzFeed News, while Maryland’s new law puts into place criminal penalties specifically for Maryland cops who have sex with detainees, Maryland’s law is not as tough as the laws in 16 other states, some of which classify all sex in law enforcement custody as rape. In most of the states with statutes specifically addressing sex in police custody, the crime is often categorized as a felony that require a minimum number of years in prison. The Maryland law makes the offense a misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum sentence of three years. This means that Maryland is part of a few states that have passed laws specifically barring police officers from having sex with detainees but not defining all these encounters as rape.
Before the law’s passage, Maryland was one of several states where police officers could avoid a sexual assault conviction by arguing that the sex was consensual.
If you are charged with a sex crime in Maryland or you have been the victim of a sex crime, you should talk to a Maryland criminal defense attorney. A Baltimore sex crimes lawyer can get the charges reduced or work out a plea bargain, among other defense options. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas J. Maronick have experience handling these cases. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 202.288.0167, the law office at 410.934.3007 or via our website for a free consultation.