A 15 year-old girl in Georgia said a police officer sexually assaulted her for hours after she was detained for violating curfew.
The East Point police officer is being investigated for the alleged sexual assault by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, according to local station Channel 2 Action News, which reported the news on Monday. The officer is on paid administrative leave, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported.
Thomas Reynolds, the lawyer for the family, told Channel 2 Action News that it’s possible the teenage girl and two boys she was with were followed by the officer as they left a Waffle House. Then, according to the lawyer, they all went to Sykes Park, where the officer walked up to them and detained the 15-year-old girl while letting the rest of the group go. After she was detained, the girl was allegedly brought to an apartment building where the officer sexually assaulted her and kept her there for three hours. Then the officer took the teenager back to her home.
At some point after the sexual assault took place, the girl started crying and told her mother what happened. The attorney has also said the police officer stalked both the girl and her mother when they went to the hospital hours after the sexual assault took place. Reynolds said hospital staff had to walk the officer out of the hospital.
One of the details of the reported crime is similar to details of the alleged rape of a teenager in New York, who goes by the name Anna Chambers on social media. Last fall, Chambers described an incident where she was driving with two male friends and was pulled over by two detectives. The detectives searched the car and found a bag of drugs next to her and drugs on her friend’s person and then Chambers said officers handcuffed only her and drove her to a Chipotle parking lot, where they both raped her. The officers claimed it was consensual.
Police are given broad powers that enable them to target marginalized groups and people who simply won’t be believed, groups that often intersect, with sexual violence. Those groups often include teenagers, people of color, LGBTQ people, sex workers, and homeless people, experts on police sexual violence have told ThinkProgress.
Teenagers are a frequent target for sexual assault and harassment by law enforcement, research has shown. A 2014 national scale study that looked at the issue of police sexual misconduct found that victims of sex-related police crime are typically younger than 18. A 2002 study by Samuel Walker and Dawn Irlbeck found that 40 percent of police sexual misconduct cases involved teens. A 2003 follow-up to that study found that through Explorer programs, which allow young people to consider a career in law enforcement, officers exploit young people, typically female high school students during ride-alongs.
In some cases, that abuse is incredibly widespread. Just last year, the Oakland Police department settled a claim over 14 officers in its department paying a teenage girl for sex and exchanging information about planned police raids for sex. During some of these incidents, the young woman, referred to as Jasmine, was underage.
Moreover, the restriction that enabled the police officer to detain the teenager in the first place has been shown to be discriminatory and ineffective at stopping any kind of crime. An ACLU case study that looked at Minneapolis police data from January 2012 to September 2014, found that Black young people disproportionately received end of curfew charges compared to white youth. And violent crime by juvenile offenders tends to happen before curfew times even begin. Mike Males, a senior researcher for the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, told the Guardian in 2016, said he hasn’t seen evidence that it is effective in crime prevention and “Curfews became this way of responding that both blamed young people and didn’t affect adults.”