A national story is gaining momentum and turning the looking glass at law enforcement officers nationwide who claim to have consensual sex with those in their custody.
According to the story, Alabama is one of 35 states in the nation that have no laws against law enforcement officials having sex with someone in their custody and calling it consensual, even if the victim says it it rape.
Alabama has a slough of law enforcement rape cases, even one within the past few weeks. Although most cases end with officers serving a short amount of time or being suspended for their crimes, most believe these punishments to be fairly moderate for the crime that was committed. A report by Buffalo News shows that more than 700 law enforcement officers have been accused of sexual misconduct.
It’s a loophole most people don’t consider, and one that some believe should be closed. “Cultural shifts happen, but what we need to see is a policy shift,” Tara Burns, an advocate in Alaska who has worked to expand police sexual assault laws told Buzzfeed. “There’s a long entrenched history of institutionalized rape culture that has to change.”
Although some officers do receive punishment for their actions from the law enforcement agencies themselves, they are often moderate. For example, in December of 2017 two police officers working for the Southside Police Department were charged with two counts of rape, each; and one was charged with two counts of sodomy. Following their arrest and indictment they were placed on leave, with pay.
In January a Mobile, Ala. police officer was charged with raping a woman in his city-issued narcotics vehicle; no criminal charges have been filed against the officer. According to the Mobile Police Department “appropriate administrative action was taken” against the officer, but it is still unclear as to wether or not he is still on duty.
“Of at least 158 law enforcement officers charged since 2006 with sexual assault, sexual battery, or unlawful sexual contact with somebody under their control, at least 26 have been acquitted or had charges dropped based on the consent defense. In most of the states that do not explicitly outlaw sex between on-duty cops and detainees,” such as Alabama, “an officer can claim consent and face only a misdemeanor “official misconduct” charge, which carries a maximum one-year sentence.”
Amid all of the sexual assault allegations being exposed over the past few months, you would think everyone, especially law enforcement officials, would understand that women are no longer staying silent over these issues.
Stories like this should make us stop and think; just because we hold the men in uniform to a higher standard than most, does that make them above the law?
What do you think?
Should Alabama consider changing this loophole?