There are 35 states where armed law enforcement officers can evade sexual assault charges by claiming that such an encounter — from groping to intercourse — was consensual, according to a BuzzFeed News review of every state legal code.
“Our laws regarding sexual consent must be brought into line with basic common sense, empathy, and human decency.”
In recent years, some states have closed this loophole, applying to cops the same rules already in place nationwide for probation officers and prison and jail guards. Oregon did so in 2005, Alaska in 2013, and Arizona in 2015. Most 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.
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, according to my review of a Buffalo News database of more than 700 law enforcement officers accused of sexual misconduct.