Cops Sexually Abuse Kids, Dodge Prison: Report

Washington Post investigation finds that it happens more often than you might think
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 16, 2024 4:25 PM CDT
Overlooked Problem: Cops Who Sexually Abuse Kids
   (Getty / aijohn784)

In Nevada, Missouri, a 16-year-old girl interested in becoming a cop started going on ride-alongs with officer Brian Hansen. He would eventually plead guilty to statutory sodomy after state investigators accused him of sexually abusing the teen in his patrol car and at a firing range. Hansen received probation, not jail time. As an extensive investigation by the Washington Post makes clear, the story is not an anomaly. Over "the past two decades, hundreds of law enforcement officers in the United States have sexually abused children while officials at every level of the criminal justice system have failed to protect kids, punish abusers and prevent additional crimes," the story reads. The Post identified at least 1,800 law enforcement officers at the state and local level who were charged with child sexual abuse from 2005 through 2022. Details:

  • Three-quarters of the victims were teens, and the officers were almost never related. In almost every case, 99%, the officer was male.
  • The cases often meet the classic example of grooming: officers in a position of authority taking advantage of a young person who might be vulnerable.
  • About 40% of those convicted did not receive jail time. For those who did, it was usually less than 5 years.
  • Some 66% had more than five years of service on the force, and a total of 47 were chiefs of police or other types of agency heads.
  • "This happens to communities all across the country, but it's not on people's radar," says Phillip M. Stinson, a Bowling Green State University criminal justice professor. "And then, police chiefs adhere to the bad apples theory, where they say, 'There's nothing to see here, we got rid of this problem when we fired them.'"
(Read the full investigation, which includes first-person accounts from victims.)

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