It might be not a common knowledge, but to this day there are some states in America where it is not against the law for police officers to have sex with someone in their custody — even if that someone is in handcuffs and cannot possibly provide consent.
This alarming loophole in the legal framework of states came to light when two NYPD officers admitted to having sex with a teenage girl while she was in custody.
However, finally some congressional lawmakers are pushing to introduce a bill that would bar federal law enforcement officers from having sex with people they detain or arrest.
“Law enforcement members wield incredible power in their ability to detain individuals,” Rep. Jackie Speier, one of the bill’s sponsors, said in a statement. “Our bill ensures that police will act accordingly in their official duties, as befitting their role as officers of the law, and that any such abuse of this power will not be tolerated.”
As an incentive to states that decide to abide by the proposed legislation, additional federal funding would reportedly be directed to law enforcement agencies.
The proposal was to be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives under the name, Closing Law Enforcement Consent Loophole Act. It also sought to encourage similar legislatures to follow suit by promising money through Violence Against Women Act grants to states that prohibit such blatant abuse of power by cops and promptly submit data regarding sexual misconducts by local officers to the Department of Justice.
However, the sad reality is it took the rape of an 18-year-old Anne Chambers for the lawmakers to pay attention to this massive legal loophole, which is downright appalling and an example of gross injustice.
The fact is cops have authority, badges, guns and —at least plausibly—the law on their side, whereas on the other hand, detainees are held against their will and are essentially powerless, makes it next to impossible to distinguish consent from coercion in such cases.
Moreover, due to the obvious power imbalance, the chances are any sexual encounter between a police officer and an arrested person would be non-consensual and should be treated just like that.
Following the reports of Chamber’s kidnap and sexual assault by two New York City police officers, the review of legal codes revealed about 35 states didn’t have statutes that explicitly labeled sexual encounters between cops and detainees as non-consensual.
According to the BuzzFeed News, at least 26 of 158 law enforcement officers nationwide who were charged with sexual assault, sexual battery, or unlawful sexual contact of someone were acquitted or had charges dropped. This just makes the entire deal even more disturbing and highlights how this oversight by lawmakers possibly had let many cops get away with such vile practices.
Nevertheless, in months since Chambers’ story broke out, New York, Maryland, Kansas, and New Hampshire passed laws that addressed the matter on hand and banned cops from having sex with people in custody.
The proposal in question would set prison sentences of up to 15 years for any law enforcement officers, such as FBI and ICE agents, who engage in any such dirty practices.
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