Alabama Trooper Samuel McHenry Pleads Guilty To Sexual Misconduct Charges
Mar. 7, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — An Alabama state trooper charged with rape has pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct while on duty in December, 2015. Samuel McHenry was sentenced to a six months in jail last Thursday, to be served “in increments at his own discretion,” within the next year.
The trooper initially faced felony charges for rape and sodomy which were dismissed after reaching a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to the misdemeanor sexual misconduct. He was also stripped of his Alabama Peace Officer Training Certification and must register as a sex offender under state law.
Sexual Misconduct, under the Alabama Section 13A-6-65, provides:
(a) A person commits the crime of sexual misconduct if:
(1) Being a male, he engages in sexual intercourse with a female without her consent, under circumstances other than those covered by Sections 13A-6-61 and 13A-6-62; or with her consent where consent was obtained by the use of any fraud or artifice; or
(b) Sexual misconduct is a Class A misdemeanor.
According to McHenry’s arrest warrant, the trooper was sent to investigate the scene of a traffic accident in Butler County, ALA at 10 pm on December 6, 2015. According to the victim’s affidavit, McHenry threatened to arrest her after spotting pill bottles and an empty nasal spray bottle. After ordering the woman into the caged area in the back of his patrol car, he drove her to an exit off Interstate 65, where he parked in a remote location and opened the backdoor of his vehicle. The victim’s affidavit then alleged:
McHenry instructed the victim that she was going to have to “F*ck me or go to jail.” McHenry then got next to the victim standing outside the door while the victim was in the backseat. Victim states McHenry pulled her pants down and penetrated her vaginally with his penis. Victim stated McHenry pulled out and ejaculated on the ground, or in his State Trooper Tahoe. Victim states that McHenry then forced her to perform oral sex with the threat of going to jail. Victim stated after McHenry finished he took her to Exit 101 and put her out of his vehicle at a closed store.
The AP reports that a rape kit was obtained from the victim on December 7th at a local hospital, and that samples taken from McHenry’s patrol car tested positive for semen.
As noted by law professor Jonathan Turley,
What is particularly worrisome with the plea is that not only did he face charges of rape and sodomy but the dismissal of those charges (and plea to a misdemeanor) was done reportedly without the approval or consultation with the witness. Usually the victim is made part of this process.
McHenry’s lawyer, Mcgowin Williamson, pointing out that the victim and her lawyer were in court for the plea, disputed that claim that the plea would ordinarily be subject to her approval:
The normal thing is … this [deal] would not be done without the victim’s agreement and acquiescence. As I wasn’t privy to those communications, I don’t know in this case, but normally that would happen.
Nothing about the plea precludes the victim from commencing a civil action against McHenry for his conduct.
After McHenry’s arrest, Alabama Secretary of Law Enforcement Spencer Collier called the allegations “unsettling.”
Even more “unsettling,” a November, 2015 AP investigation that revealed that roughly 1,000 policemen across the United States were stripped of their badges for sexual misconduct in the past six years. Allegations against these officers included forced sodomy, rape and propositioning citizens for sex while on duty.
This number reflects only police officers who have been stripped of their badges. According to CBS News, “not all states take such action, maintain accurate records or have a statewide system to decertify officers for misconduct.” California and New York were unable to produce records for the AP probe because they have no official policy to strip officers of their badges for police misconduct.
Chief Bernadette DiPino of the Sarasota Police Department in Florida, who conducted a study on police sexual misconduct, told the AP:
It’s happening probably in every law enforcement agency across the country…It’s so underreported and people are scared that if they call and complain about a police officer, they think every other police officer is going to be then out to get them.
While cases of excessive force have sparked a national outcry against needless violence law enforcement, sexual misconduct has only recently started to garner widespread media attention, due in no small part to the high-profile Daniel Holtzclaw case, the former Oklahoma City police officer who was convicted in December on 18 counts of sexual assault on 13 women, and sentenced to 263 years of prison.