As we report on a regular basis, one of the major problems with policing in the United States is the sheer lack of accountability and consequences for their criminal actions.
Cops can kill innocent children — on video — and return to duty like nothing ever happened. As the following case out of Florida illustrates, officers can even admit to multiple sexual assaults and not be concerned with going to jail at all, and even keep their retirement.
A shocking lawsuit filed in federal court by Lauren Reynolds and 14 other women, exposes multiple officers who — according to government filings — admitted to the sexual abuse of multiple women and faced no legal repercussions.
In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Reynolds said that weeks after she arrived in a federal prison, she was targeted by officer Daniel Kuilan, who told her that if she wanted protection, she would have to give him what he wanted — sex.
According to the lawsuit, Kuilan raped Reynolds shortly after that and told her that if she told anyone, she would be in trouble and sent to another prison that was worse than this one.
For the next six months, Reynolds says Kuilan repeatedly raped her — every Wednesday at a warehouse before her work shift began.
According to the lawsuit, the 15 women, aged 26 to 59, were raped over the course of several years and were threatened if they did not comply.
Adding credence to the lawsuit is the fact that six of the accused officers in the lawsuit actually admitted to having sexual contact with the women.
Kuilan was one of these officers and according to the government’s own filing, he acknowledged his victim was Reynolds. One of the other officers named in the lawsuit admitted to sexual contact with seven of the women in the lawsuit.
Despite admitting to these crimes, not a single one of the six officers were prosecuted. As is the case with most problem cops caught committing crimes while on duty, they were allowed to retire and resign.
Adding insult to sexual assault is the fact that many of them are receiving their benefits, Kuilan included — who resigned with medical disability last year after the scandal broke.
As the Times reports, in the government response, Reynolds saw for the first time that Kuilan had admitted that he had “previously engaged in sexual conduct” with her.
“It kind of validated me on a personal level,” Reynolds said. “But still, I have to live with it.”
According to the report, some of the officers claimed that the sex with inmates was consensual.
However, as TFTP has reported on numerous occasions when law enforcement attempts to claim consensual sex with someone in their custody, this holds no water.
When a man has the keys to a cage in which a woman is locked, that woman can never “consent” to anything. The Bureau of Prisons agrees.
“There is never any such thing as consensual sex between staff and inmates,” the Bureau of Prisons policy reads.
The policy states that sexual abuse from a staff member includes voyeurism, asking an inmate for sexual favors and any contact where the staff member has the intent of abuse, arousal or gratifying sexual desires.
Allegations of sexual abuse are investigated and referred for prosecution when appropriate, the policy says, and employees can be fired for inappropriate behavior or relationships with inmates, whether or not criminal charges are pursued.
Yet none of these measures were taken after these officers admitted to the sexual abuse of 15 women.
Joe Rojas, the southeast regional vice president for the workers union, AFGE Council of Prisons, which represents prison officers, described the actions of the former Coleman officers as “disgusting.”
He then went on to say that the other 1,300 staff members who work in the prisons are good and assured reporters that these men were just a few bad apples.
“There are bad staff,” he said. “Which doesn’t reflect the other 1,300 staff who work hard, protect society and are never guaranteed to go home when they go to work.”
However, the fact that not a single one of the other 1,300 staff tried or otherwise even spoke out about holding these men accountable for their crimes, makes this statement hollow, and the federal lawsuit agrees.
According to the lawsuit, the women claim the prison system is a “sanctuary for abusers.”
Indeed, the details of the lawsuit describe a horrific situation for all the women involved who were repeatedly raped for years, going back all the way to 2012.
Nothing highlights the complete failure of a system to hold itself accountable quite like this case.
The fact that these officers are still walking around as free men and have yet to face so much as an investigation — all the while still collecting benefits — speaks to the systemic nature of corruption in the ranks of US law enforcement. This needs to change now, here’s how.