Missouri Cops Would Face 'No Booty on Duty' Under New Bill

Feb 27, 2018 at 6:50 am
click to enlarge Former police officer John Stewart was charged with sodomy earlier this year. - VIA SLMPD
Former police officer John Stewart was charged with sodomy earlier this year.
Last month, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner charged a former St. Louis police officer with sodomy after a woman said he demanded oral sex from her while responding to a domestic dispute. The charges came more than two years after the woman's complaint — and a short documentary in which she spoke about her ordeal.

But if cases in other jurisdictions are any guide, it may prove difficult to secure a conviction. That's because, as former RFT reporter Albert Samaha detailed in a blockbuster Buzzfeed report earlier this month, Missouri is one of 35 states where it's legal for cops to have sex on duty. Never mind that the people they're dealing with may be terrified or worried about retaliation; the fact they can claim an encounter was consensual can make prosecution difficult.

State Representative Gina Mitten (D-St. Louis) would like to change that. Last week, she introduced House Bill 2520, which makes it a class-D felony for police officers, probation officers and corrections officers to "engage in sexual conduct while on duty."

“Considering the current climate of our country, it is imperative that we put into statute policy that will hold officers accountable for engaging in inappropriate sexual activity,” Mitten said in a prepared statement. “Intimidation, coercion and sexual harassment by anyone, and particularly by those who are to protect us is unacceptable and has no place in our state, let alone our nation. Ignoring the reality of these situations will not make the problem disappear, and House Bill 2520 is a safeguard we can put in place to ensure victims receive the justice they so rightfully deserve.”

As Samaha reported for Buzzfeed, Missouri would be following the example set by other states that have tackled the problem in recent years. "Oregon did so in 2005, Alaska in 2013, and Arizona in 2015," he wrote. "Most [states] have not, partly because few people realize the loophole exists, and partly because it has been politically unpopular to push laws that target cops and anger their powerful unions."

Under Mitten's bill, "sexual conduct in the course of public duty" would be punishable by up to seven years in prison.

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