Men in positions of power and official authority who use those positions to sexually harass women or extort sex from them must be held legally accountable for their misconduct. This is especially so for the police sworn to protect and serve all people.
1000+ Cops Fired for Rape, Sodomy and Sex on the Job
After a yearlong investigation by Matt Sedensky and Nomaan Merchant, Associated Press reported in 2015 that it had identified more than 1,000 cases over a six-year period in which police officers were fired because of rape, sodomy or consensual sex on the job. That same year Buffalo News investigative reporter Matthew Spina identified 700 cases over the previous decade involving police who had used their positions to sexually abuse or engage in some form of sexual misconduct while on duty. The newspaper identified 104 new cases in 2014 alone.
By 2011, the International Association of Chiefs of Police had recognized that sexual violence and misconduct by the police had become epidemic and proposed a series of recommendations designed to change this lawless culture among the “protect and serve” ranks.
Predator Policeman Sexually Assaults, Extorts Sex from Probationers
Like all sexual predators, police officers, who use their position to extort sex, look for individuals in the most vulnerable positions. That’s what Scott Edwards did when he was a lieutenant with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department in Troy, Missouri and served as a “tracker” for the county’s drug court.
There are 143 “treatment courts” in the State of Missouri. One of them is the drug court in Lincoln County established in November 2004. As with most drug courts, the Lincoln County drug court was set up for the following reasons:
- They are a proven cost-effective method for diverting non-violent offenders from incarceration in prison.
- Drug courts lower the recidivism rate of offenders when compared to either incarceration or probation.
- They allow offenders to remain in their communities, to support their families and to pay taxes.
- Drug courts reduce the number of babies born addicted.
- They reduce crime and the need for foster care, and they help ensure that child payments are made.
Before he resigned in December 2010 from the sheriff’s department, Edwards used his “tracker” position to extort sex from female participants under drug court supervision. Edward’ duties as a drug court tracker included:
- Curfew checks at participants’ home at 10 p.m.;
- Conduct searches of participants’ homes, refrigerators, and trash for evidence of drug use or any other noncompliance infractions;
- Conduct on-site urine analysis
- Reporting information about participants’ compliance with drug court team meetings; and
- Taking into custody any participants who violated drug court program rules.
It was a sweeping position of discretionary authority. Edwards held the freedom of the drug court participants in his palm. One cited infraction by him could result in a term of prison incarceration for a participant.
Unchecked Police Power Used to Force Sex
In 2010 it became known that Edwards had used his position of authority to extort and otherwise sexually assault female participants in the drug court program during curfew checks or while conducting body searches or transporting participants in his patrol vehicle. He also fondled and abused participants by forcing them to remove their bras and expose their breasts to “shake out” any drugs. He also took participants to motel rooms where he sexually assaulted them.
All the female participants would later say that they complied with Edwards’ sexual demands because he had the power to do whatever he wanted to them.
Edwards was eventually snared in a sting operation. He was indicted on a series of federal sexual assault charges to which he pled guilty in 2012. In December of that year he was sentenced to 10 years in a federal prison followed by three years of supervised released.
Federal Civil Rights Suit Filed Against County Awards $2.5 Million
Four of the victims of Edwards’ sexual extortion and abuse filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights lawsuit against Edwards, the Lincoln County sheriff, and other county officials for the crimes committed against them. In July 2016, a federal jury awarded the women $2.25 million in damages for their abuse, saying Lincoln County officials should have known Edwards was sexually abusing them.
On October 27, 2017, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the damage award. The appeals court concluded that the evidence, “while not overwhelming, was sufficient to permit a reasonable jury to find (i) it was so obvious to Drug Court team members that failing to provide any supervision of Edwards as Drug Court tracker would result in the violation of sexually vulnerable participants’ constitutional rights as to constitute deliberate indifference to the need for supervision, and (ii) this adequate indifference was attributable to the Sheriff of Lincoln County as the Drug Court team member responsible for supervising tracker Edwards.”
Sexual Harassment, Abuse Comes from the Top
This nation currently has a president who, by his own admission, used his position of financial power to sexually assault women before he became president; male members of Congress who have either sexually harassed or attempted to sexually extort female members of Congress; a former Speak of the United States House of Representatives convicted of false statements regarding sexual assault of a student; a former president who has admitted to being known as “David Cop-a-Feel” because of his inappropriate touching of females; and a host of other federal officials, including federal judges and elected officials who have been convicted of child sex crimes or other forms of sexual extortion.
The nation is no longer shocked when a federal judge watches pornography while hearing criminal cases or the president calls the sixteen women who have accused him of sexual misconduct “liars.” Most Americans are offended, if not outraged, when NFL players take a knee during the playing of the national anthem, but who pay not a moment’s notice when their local police, much less their president, congressmen or federal/state judges, use their positions to sexually extort, exploit and abuse women because they have the power to do so.
At least Scott Edwards is no longer in a position of authority to use his power to sexually extort and abuse women subject to his authority—and we are thankful that Lincoln County will pick up that $2.25 million tab for the sexual misconduct he forced on his victims. Awards from civil rights lawsuits, and the cost the tax payers, seem to be all that can be done to bring attention and remedial action to a long-ignored problem of sexual harassment and abuse by men in power. “Tax reform” is not going to save “middle class” taxpayers from having to pony up the millions their “protect and serve” officials continue to cost them.