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  • Ryan Lipton

Bill that closes legal loophole that allows cops to rape detainees has sat idle for over a year

Police corruption ruins more than just black lives in America. Police officers could legally rape anyone in at least 34 states in 2018 if they claim it was consensual, according to USA Today.

On March 6, 2019, California representative Jackie Speier introduced the Closing the Law Enforcement Loophole Act of 2019 to the house, according to the Congress website.

  1. “This bill makes it unlawful for a federal law enforcement officer to engage in a sexual act while acting under color of law or with an individual who is under arrest, in detention, or in custody.

  2. “Consent is not a defense to prosecution for unlawful conduct. A violator is subject to criminal penalties—a fine, a prison term of up to 15 years, or both.

  3. “Additionally, the bill authorizes the Department of Justice to make grants to states that have in effect similar laws. Grants must be used for the same purposes as formula grants under the STOP Violence Against Women Program and the Sexual Assault Services Program.”

As of today, the bill has yet to be voted on.

A few weeks after the house bill was introduced in 2019, Democrat Richard Blumenthal introduced a similar bill to the senate. It too has suffered the same fate. No one has voted on either bill and it has been more than 16 months.

How does a bill that makes it so police officers can’t rape detainees not get passed in the senate and the house? How does it not even get to a vote?

The aforementioned act was put into Tim Scott’s police reform bill, the Justice Act, with slight variations in wording, however, Scott’s bill was shot down in the Senate as Democrats believed it did not do enough for police reform.

The Closing the Law Enforcement Loophole Act of 2019 can still be voted on and passed at any time in congress.

Cops have a sexual assault issue

More than 85 percent of police officers are male, per Data USA, and police officers were charged with forcible rape 405 times between 2005 and 2013 along with forcible fondling 636 times, via CNN.

“Experts say those statistics are, by no means, comprehensive,” said CNN’s Eliott McLaughlin. “Data on sexual assaults by police are almost nonexistent, they say.”

“It’s just not available at all,” said Jonathan Blanks, a research associate with the Cato Institute’s Project on Criminal Justice via CNN. “You can only crowdsource this info.”

The extent of the problem is unknown and the 405 cases are likely only the tip of the iceberg.

“One statistic from Stinson indicates that for every sexual assault that makes the news, there are almost always more victims — on average, five more,” said McLaughlin. “About half of the victims are children, researchers say.”

The fact that it is 2020 and many police officers have the power to rape someone in their custody because of a loophole is disgusting.

If you do google searches on the topic, a wave of articles written at the end of 2018 appears. However, there is barely anything since. It is hard to know which states have changed its laws since and to get any information on the situation. Where is the media attention? The issue has just disappeared since Buzzfeed broke this story in 2018.

Luckily, USA Today has recently fact-checked the 2018 claim and found that these states have since taken a step to close the loophole: New York, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Texas.

The states that do not appear to have passed a “no consent by detainees law” include Nevada, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Virginia. However, there are possibly many more states as it is hard to figure out who has passed the law, or not, considering it is a loophole and not a law that specifically states cops are allowed to rape detainees.

For people in the government and those that have a platform, how is this the reality that women face in America today?


About Ryan Lipton:

Ryan is a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in Business Journalism. He has written in the past for SB Nation's Silver and Black Pride, USA Today Sports Media Group, North Carolina Business News Wire, the Daily Tar Heel, and has worked with Ice Cube's BIG3 basketball league.




For even more detail on the issue, read these following links.

Police officers in the US were charged with more than 400 rapes over a 9-year period – CNN

There’s No Such Thing as ‘Consensual Sex’ When a Person Is in Police Custody – ACLU

An 18-Year-Old Said She Was Raped While In Police Custody. The Officers Say She Consented – Buzzfeed

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