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Trigger Warning: This article discusses sexual assault, stalking, and abuse by law enforcement officials.
(TheAntiMedia) COLUMBUS, OH- In a rare showing, the government investigated itself and found that it had, in fact, done something wrong. Last week, former Ohio State trooper Bryan Lee, 30, plead guilty in federal court to sexually abusing multiple women during traffic stops.
After a routine dash camera investigation, Lee’s department suspected he had been coercing women into sex in exchange for not issuing them tickets.
The Ohio State Police reported their suspicions to the FBI.
Lieutenant Craig Cvetan, the Public Affairs Commander for the Ohio Highway Patrol, said “The conversations that he was having, they didn’t seem to be quite as work related as they should be. The questions that he was asking didn’t really seem to pertain to the stop, so at that point we began to investigate a little bit further into the incident.”
Deeper investigation found Lee had violated the civil rights of four women. WBNS reported that according to court documents, in one case
He pulled a woman over and asked if he could take a picture of her without her top on. The woman complied and they later had sex near an abandoned gas station. The woman told investigators Lee tore up her speeding ticket after they had sex. Lee said he tore up the ticket after he saw her crying.
Lee was charged with four counts of “unwarranted search and seizure,” a creative legal term for the officer’s sexual assault. During the instances, he turned off his microphone and had sex with the women out of view of his camera. Some were in handcuffs at the time. On some occasions, he photographed his conquests.
The former trooper was also charged with one count of cyber-stalking after Facebook messaging a woman he pulled over around a county fair and once again later that month. He sent her messages like: “Saw you at the fair, Pink Sweatshirt. You not even going to talk to me?”
Lee, who worked as a state trooper from January 2006 to October 2013, resigned at the outset of the investigation last October. He plead guilty to all charges this week and faces up to 9 years in prison, including 5 for cyber-stalking.
Cases like these are not unusual and have appeared across the country. Some are prosecuted. Such flagrant sexual abuse almost makes the officer in Texas who solicited women for their undergarments or a foot-licking in exchange for being free to go seem tame.
Police have shown a tendency to mistreat women in a variety of other ways, often facing only a paid vacation for their actions. Police in Los Angeles were put on leave after raping women they were detaining. An Occupy Wall Street protester ended up incarcerated for “assaulting an officer” after a cop squeezed her breast so hard he left a black and blue bruise. In 2010, a Cato report on police misconduct found that 10% of all police misconduct was sexual in nature. It was second only to “assault.”
At the court hearing, Ohio Assistant Attorney General, Leslie R. Caldwell said,
There can be no greater breach of trust or abuse of authority than a police officer exploiting the power of his position to sexually abuse the very citizens he has sworn to protect…Today’s guilty plea should serve as a reminder that nobody is above the law, especially those who have taken an oath to uphold it.
At the very least, Lee’s conviction is a small example of this sentiment. He reportedly cried in court, apparently understanding that while many cops escape rule of law, he is no longer of them.
Photo Credit: Scott Davidson under (CC BY 2.0) via Wikimedia Commons