In September 2017, two plainclothes NYPD detectives detained
18-year-old Anna on a minor drug charge. After letting her two male friends go, they led Anna, handcuffed, to the back of an unmarked van and drove around while taking turns raping her. Eventually, they dropped her off on the side of the road — with no arrest, no citation, and no paperwork filed to record the event.
Anna assumed this was a clear cut case of police misconduct, but the incident highlighted a terrifying loophole in New York: there was no law that specifically prohibited police officers from having sex with someone in their custody
. In fact, in 33 states still, police can claim that a sexual encounter was consensual to avoid sexual assault charges.When someone is in custody of the police, there is an immediate imbalance of power making consent by the detainee impossible. It's time for the law to reflect that in every state. Police sexual misconduct is a serious problem.
According to a disturbing investigation by the Associated Press
, 990 law enforcement officers lost their jobs for sexual misconduct between 2009 and 2014. But that's just police who were caught and punished for their crimes. Countless others have gotten away with sexual misconduct, either because their victims were too scared to come forward or because they were protected by a corrupt system. If authority is to be respected, authorities must be held accountable when they abuse their power. Please sign this petition urging the states listed above to pass laws making it illegal for cops to have sex with detainees.