For the second time in six months, a New Jersey state trooper has been accused of pulling over female drivers to ask them out.
Eric Richardson, 31, was arrested in June after he was accused of threatening to arrest a woman who didn’t want to give him her number. Dispatchers did not know about his harassments because he turned off his dashcam and claimed he pulled over a man.
According to court records, Richardson reportedly stopped the women on state roads and hassled them about “initiating a personal relationship” between August 2016 and January 2017.
During this time, he once pulled over a woman, and upon discovering she had an active warrant, threatened her with arrest unless she agreed to give him her phone number. He also reportedly communicated with the same woman through text messages and social media.
Moreover, the trooper allegedly tried to suck up to the women by not confiscating their unregistered cars.
Another woman also alleged she had a disturbing encounter with Richardson after she was forced to give up her phone number. Richardson once again stopped her two months later demanding to know why she changed her number.
The incident came six months after another New Jersey state trooper was arrested on the same charges. Marquice Prather also routinely stopped young women to ask for dates and had a habit of turning off his microphones, claiming technical issue. He also reportedly used to take the women’s cell phone back to his car and look through them, investigators said.
Spokesman Capt. Brian Polite for the state police said such occurrences of sexual harassment are “rare” and do not indicate the behavior of “the vast majority of troopers.”
What’s more, he said traffic stops brought to the attention of internal investigators are highly scrutinized.
However, according to court documents, both Richardson and Prather avoided detection for months by falsifying information and deactivating their recording devices.
Internal investigators were only able to make a case against them after multiple women came forward alleging their disturbing behavior.
This fact is extremely alarming.
"I think it's a reasonable question to ask why it had taken as long as it did," said Seth Stoughton, a former police officer who teaches law at the University of South Carolina. "What if no one complained about those officers? It could have kept going."
After the incident came to light, Richardson was suspended from his $60,749 job and was charged for his alleged cover-ups, including third-degree tampering with public records and information and fourth-degree falsifying or tampering with records.
If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.