Proposed Bill Would Make Sexual Contact by Law Enforcement with Person in Custody a Felony
In an email sent from Senator Lena Taylor (D - Milwaukee) to Legislative Colleagues yesterday, March 8, 2018, seeking co-sponsorship, the memo states that the proposed bill would provide a Class C Felony for the act of a law enforcement officer having sexual contact or intercourse with someone in their custody. Current Wisconsin law does not contain a criminal prohibition on sexual contact between a law enforcement officer and a person in his or her custody.
Senator Lena Taylor
"On September 15, 2017, an 18 year-old passenger in a car, Anna Chambers, was detained after a traffic stop in Brooklyn, New York. She was taken into custody by two plainclothes NYPD detectives after the male driver and another male passenger were told to go home. The teenager was handcuffed and placed in the back of an unmarked police van with tinted windows. The detectives then took turns raping Anna while the other drove the car around for just under an hour, eventually dropping her off less than a quarter of a mile from a police station. The detectives filed no paperwork or report regarding their contact with the teen.
When Anna made it home and told her mother, they went to the hospital. A rape kit collected the semen of detectives Eddie Martin and Richard Hall. Further, there was surveillance footage supporting Anna’s claim of where the detectives dropped her off. It should have been a cut and dry case. It wasn’t.
Under New York law, it is not illegal for a police officer to have sex with an individual in their custody. As a result, the detectives were able to argue in court that the sex was consensual and convictions for the egregious crime became a battle of hearsay. The fact that officers of the law had intercourse with a person in their custody was not, in and of itself, illegal.
Wisconsin and New York are just two of 35 states in which this loophole currently exists. However we do have laws that prohibit parole officers and prison guards from engaging in sexual behavior with individuals in their custody. This bill provides a Class C felony, the equivalent of second degree sexual assault, for the act of a law enforcement officer having sexual contact or intercourse with someone in their custody. The same statutory rules already apply to both parole officers and prison guards.
This bill seeks to add Wisconsin to the list of states, including Arizona and Oregon, who have closed the legal loophole that allows for the possibility of law enforcement personnel to circumvent serious sex crimes."
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
Under this bill, it is a Class C Felony for a law enforcement officer to have sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a person in his or her custody. For the purposes of the crime created in this bill, consent is not an issue. The bill adds the prohibited conduct to the list of activities in current law that constitute second degree sexual assault. Current law does not contain a criminal prohibition on sexual contact between a law enforcement officer and a person in his or her custody.
Under current law, a person may be required to register as a sex offender for certain crimes that are sexually motivated if the judge determines that it would be in the interest of public protection to have the person register. Under this bill, the new offense of sexual contact between a law enforcement officer and a person in his or her custody would be subject to this provision.