One group, a group with the most power to compel compliance, seems almost exempt for discussion of sexual abuse of women and almost exempt from full prosecution: police officers.
Armed with badges and guns, these officers have the ability to take freedom at any moment and to take lives. What could deserve more attention than the instances in which cops sexually assault women? Shouldn't the National Organization for Women, #MeToo activists, advocates and high-powerful lawyers be shouting about such cases?
It's not happening, and cops continue to abuse women and continue to walk away with "penalties" that are baffling and horrifying for their lack accountability.
Take the case of Anna Chambers, who was 18-years-old when two New York cops raped her in a police van. She recently learned that the two former New York Police Department officers who had raped her while on duty would serve no jail time.
“Eddie Martins and Richard Hall, the cops who resigned after the incident involving the then-18-year-old Chambers, were sentenced to five years of probation after they pleaded guilty to 11 charges, including bribery and misconduct," the Intercept reported. “Both men admitted to having sex with the teenage girl while she was held in their custody in 2017, an act that, thanks to Chambers' case, now constitutes rape under the law (and always constituted rape under any moral reading of the word).”
In 2017, "state law did not assert the most obvious of facts: that a person in police custody cannot consent to sex,” the Intercept reported. “The egregious legal loophole has since been closed, but it was too late to benefit Chambers – or to stop Martins and Hall from getting away with rape."
So not only do cops get to kill at will in this country, they also get to rape, rob and pillage too?
The whole court process smelled corrupt, as neither the young woman nor her lawyer knew about the hearing for the cops and a plea deal in late August as they prepared to be in court in early September. The lawyer "only learned about the officers' plea deals when he was called by a New York Post court reporter, who in turn had been tipped off by a court clerk,” the Intercept reported. “The secretive hearing was the latest insult poured upon Chambers’ injurious criminal justice ordeal.”
A few years back controversy exploded on the West Coast after a teenager's involvement with San Francisco Bay area officers came to light. The young woman, who was selling sex, said she had been involved with officers in five different departments over 20 officers. And, she said, some of these encounters took place when she was underage. A few officers were disciplined and at least four lost their jobs. But prosecutions fell off as the young woman refused to testify in other cases.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals recently rejected an appeal of a 263-year prison sentence handed down to Daniel Holtzclaw, a former Oklahoma City police officer convicted of assaulting black women while on duty. He was found guilty in 2015 on 18 charges involving seven women and one girl.
He is also not the only pervert on patrol. "In a yearlong investigation of sexual misconduct by U.S. law enforcement, The Associated Press uncovered about 1,000 officers who lost their badges in a six-year period for rape, sodomy and other sexual assault; sex crimes that included possession of child pornography; or sexual misconduct such as propositioning citizens or having consensual but prohibited on-duty intercourse," the Associated Press reported.
"The number is unquestionably an undercount because it represents only those officers whose licenses to work in law enforcement were revoked, and not all states take such action. California and New York – with several of the nation's largest law enforcement agencies – offered no records because they have no statewide system to decertify officers for misconduct. And even among states that provided records, some reported no officers removed for sexual misdeeds even though cases were identified via news stories or court records."
Despite immense power and abuses of power, there is little effort to make an example of officers who cross the line into criminality. So the abuses continue, the terror continues and the injustice continues under the color and cover of law.
Richard B. Muhammad is editor in chief of The Final Call newspaper and an award-winning writer.