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There’s no law to prohibit cops from having sex with detainees in Alabama

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

When 18-year-old Anna was handcuffed and arrested by two on-duty undercover police officers, little did she realize that for the next few hours she would repeatedly be raped by the two men, according to her statements. The officers’ defense, for engaging in sex with a handcuffed detainee was, it was consensual.

Alabama is one of 35 states that allows on-duty police officers to engage in sex with a detainee as long as there is consent. According to an attorney for the state, there isn’t a specific statute that addresses the issue of detainee consent. Alabama does have a statute forbidding sex with inmates in state prisons.

After the cops finished having sex with Anna, the two detectives dropped her off near where she was arrested, according to the reports. There was no report of Anna’s arrest, no citation was issued and no paperwork was filed about the stop.

According to hospital records, semen collected in Anna’s rape kit matched the DNA of the two narcotics detectives.

The Brooklyn, New York police officers were allowed to resign from the force and are currently awaiting trial on rape charges.

But Anna’s experience is surprisingly not unusual. There are numerous reports of police officers having sex with female detainees.

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Data gathered and reported by Albert Samaha at Buzzfeed found, “Of at least 158 law enforcement officers charged since 2006 with sexual assault, sexual battery, or unlawful sexual contact with somebody under their control, at least 26 have been acquitted or had charges dropped based on the consent defense.”

Samaha also found that in 2007, a former Irvine, California police officer, “was acquitted of sexual assault after claiming that the woman initiated sex to avoid getting a ticket.” He also notes that before Arizona passed its consent law, a former Phoenix police officer was acquitted of having oral sex in his patrol car because he claimed: “she had come on to him.”

In Nov. 2017, an Alabama police chief was suspended after claiming “silence is consent” in sexual assault cases.

While Killen Police Chief Bryan Hammond said he was only joking, some feel his sentiments expressed in a Facebook post underlie the callous disregard for the seriousness of sexual assault allegations.

Current Attorney General Steve Marshall failed to fire, or even reprimand, an assistant district attorney in his office in 20o4, even though a circuit court judge found that Bryon Waldrop sexually assaulted a co-worker in Marshall’s office.

After woman’s “horrific” sexual assault, what did Steve Marshall do?

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Alabama doesn’t have any laws that would explicitly prohibit police officers from having sex with someone in their custody as long as it’s consensual. The notion of a handcuffed woman willingly having sexual intercourse with her arresting officers may not sound far-fetched under the good ol’ boy system, but with the rise of the #MeToo movement, it’s difficult to imagine the kind of behavior that Attorney General Marshall allowed or that of two Brooklyn cops.

Like the case of sexual assault in Marshall’s office, men are allowed to use their power and position to sexually molest women by claiming consent. Alabama doesn’t have a law that forbids police officers from having sex with women in their custody, but it should.


Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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