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Top News Stories! Paw Cop!
June 9, 2011
Family members of a former Wasatch County deputy sheriff indicted in U.S. District Court for allegedly sexually assaulting a female inmate sobbed and collapsed into each other’s arms as the man was taken from a courtroom Thursday in handcuffs. "We know you didn’t do it!" the mother of Christopher Stein Epperson of Heber City called out to her son as U.S. marshals led him away after his arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Paul Warner. Epperson’s wife stretched out her arm toward the man and cried, "I love you!" Epperson, 33, is charged with felony deprivation of rights under color of law for his purported sexual misconduct, according to the indictment filed Wednesday.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Epperson’s family, through his attorney, declined to comment about the case after Thursday’s hearing. Warner tentatively set a seven-day trial for Epperson (pictured above, center) in August. A detention hearing will be held Monday, but Epperson meanwhile will remain locked up in the custody of U.S. marshals. Warner asked that he be kept apart from the jail’s general population so he won’t be targeted by other inmates because of his history in law enforcement. "Is he being segregated? I want that to happen for his own safety," Warner told marshals.
Epperson is accused of touching the breasts of a 34-year-old inmate, identified as "J.H." in court documents, in December 2009 while working as a guard at the county jail. He is also accused in other court documents of peeping on the inmate as she undressed, forcing her into a corner where he groped her and forced her to fondle him, sexually assaulting the woman in her cell and attempting to sodomize her.
The Utah Department of Public Safety and FBI investigated the inmate’s claims, which led to the indictment. Epperson faces up to life in prison and a maximum of $750,000 in fines if found guilty. The color of law charge is one reserved for public officials such as judges, prosecutors or those in law enforcement who abuse their authority, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The FBI generally investigates color of law cases. Authorities arrested Epperson on Wednesday afternoon.
The woman, whom the media is not identifying because she is an alleged victim of sexual assault, filed a civil lawsuit in 2010 against Epperson, the county and the sheriff’s department. Investigators approached her about the abuse after an outside witness reported what went on at the jail. She later filed the lawsuit after the criminal investigation into Epperson was under way. Her civil complaint states that she was an inmate at the Wasatch County Jail from September 2009 through April 2010, after being convicted for illegally distributing prescription drugs. In November 2009, Epperson began making comments about her physical appearance.
"He overly flirted with her by smiling and winking at her," the complaint states. Mild flirting turned into "lurid, sexual comments" as the months passed and in December 2009, Epperson ordered the victim to display her breasts so he could photograph her, according to the complaint. The victim alleges several other jail guards witnessed the harassment and did nothing to stop it, the complaint states. Epperson also showed the inmate photos of his own genitalia on several occasions, according to the complaint.
The victim’s civil complaint alleges that Epperson’s conduct violated her constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment, her due process rights and her right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. She is asking for an unspecified amount of damages, and the case remains pending before U.S. District Judge David Sam. "Deputy Epperson’s conduct summarized what constitutes willful misconduct, assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Wasatch County is responsible to ensure the safe and appropriate treatment of inmates by its guards, deputies and other inmates," the complaint states.
"Wasatch County failed to provide appropriate mechanisms, including policies, procedures and monitoring devices and mechanisms, to prevent and discover sexual abuse of inmates by guards."
The Attorney who is representing the county in the case, said the county did not have knowledge of Epperson’s behavior but believes the sexual abuse occurred. "At least one inmate is a witness to some of this misconduct, yet that inmate failed to disclose this misconduct to jail officers," the attorney wrote in court documents. "While defendants lack personal knowledge of any of this misconduct, upon information and belief, Epperson did engage in the alleged ... misconduct with [the victim]." Epperson was terminated from his position at the jail, the attorney wrote in court documents.
Officer Anthony Arevalos
Originally published March 11, 2011 at 8 p.m., updated March 17, 2011 at 3:51 p.m.
A San Diego police officer was arrested Friday on suspicion of assaulting a woman who was leaving the Gaslamp Quarter Tuesday night following a Mardi Gras celebration, Police Chief William Lansdowne said. He was identified by police as Officer Anthony Arevalos, 40, an 18-year department veteran (pictured above, center). The news followed the resignation a week ago of San Diego police Officer Art Perea, who is under investigation for the rape of a college student in El Cajon.
“Police departments are staffed by people, and sometimes people make bad choices,” a somber Lansdowne said Friday night at San Diego Police Department headquarters. Arevalos, a traffic officer, was to be booked into jail Friday night on suspicion of sexual battery, false imprisonment and assault under the color of authority, Lansdowne said.
Arevalos stopped the 32-year-old woman in her vehicle for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, police said. She was not arrested. She contacted police the next day to report being assaulted. Assistant Police Chief Cesar Solis, who flanked Lansdowne Friday night, called the victim “very courageous.” Lansdowne said that police had worked 72 hours nonstop on the investigation before presenting the results to the District Attorney’s Office. Solis said that he could not discuss details of the incident. He said that Arevalos was in a marked patrol car and the woman was the only one in her vehicle.
Lansdowne said that the two officer investigations no doubt affect the community's “level of trust” in the department. Police released a photograph of Arevalos because they said he may be linked to a similar incident about a year ago. Solis said he could not release details of the incident, but said it was “thoroughly investigated” at the time. No arrest was made. Anyone with information is asked to call the department’s sex-crimes unit at (619) 531-2210.
According to media sources, Arevalos helped save the life of a 9-year-old boy who nearly drowned in a bathtub at an Otay Mesa home in 1999. In 1997, he was cleared by the District Attorney’s Office in the nonfatal shooting of Laura Pinon, 18, of San Ysidro. Pinon pointed what appeared to be an Uzi assault weapon at passersby and officers on a San Ysidro street while high on methamphetamine. It was later determined that what looked like a weapon was a realistic-looking fake gun.
Breaking News Deputy Thomas Spicuzza
March 17, 2011
Officials say a St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's deputy has been arrested and booked on a charge of rape. 37-year-old Deputy Thomas Spicuzza is charged with raping a Chalmette woman while off-duty. The alleged victim told investigators that Spicuzza gave her a ride home from a New Orleans Mardi Gras event. According to the woman's account, she was on medication for depression and anxiety and lost consciousness on the drive back to St. Bernard with the deputy. Officials say that she said she next remembered waking up in bed with the officer at his residence having sex.
The woman told police she had consumed alcohol before the drive back to St. Bernard. The deputy told investigators that the sex act was consensual. According to a department spokesman, Spicuzza (pictured left) was placed on administrative leave after the woman called the Sheriff’s Office March 12, 2011, nearly a week after the incident, and reported she had been raped. The sheriff said Spicuzza was terminated from the Sheriff’s office after his arrest.
Deputy Arrested for Rape!
September 28, 2010
SUMMERVILLE, S.C. - The Summerville Police Department say they are investigating a sheriff's deputy for allegedly raping a woman in Summerville on Thursday. The Charleston County Sheriff's Office say Deputy Pressley Gaskins (pictured above, center) was placed on administrative leave without pay on Tuesday after being arrested by the Summerville Police Department for criminal sexual conduct and kidnapping. Summerville Police Officers say they responded to O'Lacy's Pub on 139 Central Avenue for a possible rape on Thursday. Police say when they met with the victim, she said she had gone to the pub to drink with business owners.
According to investigators, the victim said that the only person she could remember were two women and an unknown man that had identified himself as a police officer in Charleston. The victim told police that she went out of the pub to the smoking area she uses during the day to have a cigarette and while she was smoking, an unknown white man who identified himself as a police officer came over and stood right in front of her.
According to the victim, the man then sexually assaulted her several times. The victim states that the man then pulled her to the ground by her hair and sexually assaulted her again. The victim said she was able to scream loud enough to get away.
Officers who met with the victim say the victim told them, "You do not want to help me, you just want to take care of your own."
The officers say they tried to explain that was not the case and tried to calm her down. When an officer asked if there was anything they could do, the victim said that her family will take care of the situation.
The Summerville Police Department is continuing the investigation. Gaskins has been with the Sheriff's Office since June of 2007.
Sgt. Jeff Pelo
August 30, 2010
Bloomington, Ill., police question one of their own about string of sex assaults.
A man obsessively tracking women, sneaking into their homes, sexually assaulting them, and forcing them to perform a bizarre "cleansing" ritual that washed away any hint of evidence from their bodies. Bloomington, Ill., Police Detective Clay Wheeler spent two years pursuing the first serial rapist in his town's memory. "I've seen more brutal things, more violent things, but some of the things that happened and what he would say and tell these girls as he's assaulting them, and I mean, I get chills. It just disgusts me," he said. Hot on the rapist's trail, Wheeler and his colleagues soon uncovered clues suggesting the perpetrator was closer to home than they had ever imagined.
The rapist's first victim was then 25-year-old Kristi Mills, who awoke to a masked intruder standing in her doorway in April 2003.
"I was in shock, absolute shock. I looked at the door and saw the light there, and something just didn't seem right. And that's when I saw him," she said. "The next thing I remember is he was on top of me in the bed." Mills said the intruder told her he was there to burglarize her, and that he didn't want to hurt her, but if she made noise, he would shoot her. Wearing a ski mask and gloves, he seemed oddly calm and methodical as he bound her with zip ties and duct tape, she said. Then he slipped a pillowcase over her head and sexually assaulted Mills for 45 minutes.
"He seemed very assertive when he talked and not like somebody who's, you know, panicking. He seemed like he knew what he was doing," Mills said. Still blindfolded, he forced her into the bathroom where she heard water running. "I started to panic and I thought he was going to shoot me in the bathtub," she said. "Just over a month from my 26th birthday, and I was going to die." Mills was forced to take a long bath and told to wash carefully, while her rapist calmly walked about her apartment cleaning up after himself. Then he was gone, taking with him all the evidence, including the bed sheets. She was so upset and scared that when she got out of the bathtub, removed the pillowcase, and ripped the tape from off her eyes, she actually tore out chunks of hair. Though she said she wanted to run and hide, she decided to call 911 and report it.
Two years later, the rapist found his fourth victim, 28-year-old restaurant manager Sarah Kalmes-Gliege, who also awoke to someone coming into her room in the middle of the night. She was just six weeks away from her wedding. "It was gun to my head, knife to my throat," said Kalmes-Gliege. He made it clear he had been stalking her, and he threatened her loved ones. "He knew everything about me," she said. "What my sister looks like to what car my [finance] drove, my work schedule. He knew where I worked out. Pretty much everything."
The intruder sexually assaulted and attacked Kalmes-Gliege for almost three hours. As with Mills, he was careful. He bound her hands and covered her head with a pillowcase. "The majority of the assault was spent just humiliating and demeaning and terrorizing me. I mean, it wasn't at all about anything to do with sex. Just devastation is what, how I felt." Before leaving, as he had with Mills and his other victims, the attacker forced Kalmes-Gliege into the bathroom for a long soak to wash away the evidence. He left her alone, shaking in her tub and waiting hours until sunrise to flee.
"All I could think about was, 'I can't have someone call my family, my fiancé, my parents, my siblings and tell them that I have been killed six weeks before I get married,'" she said. Although she considered telling no one, she thought, "If I don't tell the police, this person is going to rape yet another person." So she called the cops. Even through her trauma, Kalmes-Gliege had memorized details of her attacker, from his gait to the haunting eyes behind his mask.
"He had a very distinct way of walking," she said. "Kind of cumbersome. He had very distinct bright blue eyes. I knew I would be able to pick them out as soon as I saw that person." Mills also remembered his eyes. "When you're staring into those eyes and that's the only thing you can see and the only thing you can focus on, they stick with you."
Detective Wheeler and his partner Matthew Dick realized this was a special kind of rapist; he was a stalker, a man seemingly obsessed with his victims who gathered intimate details about them. "He's actually engaging in conversation rather than just the quick act of violence," Dick said. The victims described how he would talk almost lovingly to them, as if he was their boyfriend, before getting angry and violent.
And he knew how to cover his tracks. "It was very obvious to us that this was a sophisticated criminal and knew what he was doing," Dick said.
When the police turned to the FBI for help, they were told the rapist might be a seemingly model citizen.
"The one thing they did tell us that I'll never forget is that this would be some guy that everybody works with. They'll say, 'Naw. He couldn't do that. He wouldn't do that,' you know. And it'd be somebody that would be maybe a respected member of the community," Wheeler said. The police had no prime suspect, until he stalked then 29-year-old Jonelle Galuska. She said she knew she was being watched, so when she was awoken one night by her startled dog, she immediately called the police.
At 1 a.m., Bloomington police officer Dave Zeamer arrived to find a man standing against the house, and in the glare of his flashlight, saw a man turn and walk away. "I yell, 'Police. Stop, police!'" Zeamer said. To his shock, he knew the man who turned around. It was one of his own ... fellow Bloomington police officer Jeff Pelo, his former supervisor. Pelo was a 17-year veteran of the Bloomington police, a former policeman of the year and married father of three. "You got that relief of, 'Oh, it's Pelo.' But then you are like, 'Wait a minute, it's Pelo. What's he doing out here?'" Zeamer said. Once a trusted cop, now Pelo was a suspected serial rapist. "As soon as I heard that Jeff Pelo was stopped outside that house, that connection had been drawn in my mind," said Dick.
Mounting Evidence Points to Police Sergeant
Mounting evidence revealed how Pelo may have used his police training and access to commit the crimes and cover his tracks. Detectives found that Pelo's police computer had been used to run license plate searches on three of the victims. Pelo claimed that someone else must have been using his computer terminal.
"Victims described how [the rapist] would pull some of the items around from his belt. You know, the gloves that they described were consistent with what police officers or security officers commonly wear," Wheeler remembered. It made sense that the rapist might be a cop, he said.
During a tense interrogation, Pelo denied "prowling" around Galuska's home and said he was only looking at the nearby lake. He was house-hunting, he said, rubbing his head and eyebrows nervously.
Then, a search of Pelo's home turned up a jacket and a ski mask made of fibers that matched the kind found on the duct tape used to bind Mills.
"Fiber evidence was what I think was the most important," Dick said. "About the only actual physical evidence to tie Jeff Pelo to these crimes."
The victims were brought in to see if they could identify him, first through a voice line-up. "The third victim, when she heard his voice, she literally curled up into the fetal position and pulled herself into the wall of the interview room," Dick said.
"If you spend two hours listening to that person threatening, degrade you, it doesn't take very much to recognize it," said Kalmes-Gliege.
Three victims also picked Pelo out of a photo line-up, even though the rapist had worn a mask during the attacks. But it was those clear blue eyes both Kalmes-Gliege and Mills said they remembered so vividly.
Believing Pelo was the rapist, Dick and Wheeler said he had betrayed the badge they held dear.
"To go to the victims and have to tell them that 'This was one of my own that did this to you,'" Dick said. "It was pretty devastating."
July 21, 2009
Daniel William Hiers, Jr.
July 21, 2009
“It is especially abhorrent when individuals sworn to uphold the law commit such crimes. We will remain focused on seeing that this fugitive is brought to justice.”
Daniel William Hiers, Jr. seemed to be a good cop, a faithful public servant for the city of Charleston, South Carolina. But, he betrayed his badge in the worst way, using it to gain the trust of a single mother with a young daughter, then allegedly molesting the 10-year-old child over a period of months.
HIERS is wanted for the gunshot murder of his wife, and the sexual molestation of a child. He is a former police officer with 11 years of experience and is proficient in police tactics and procedures. He is also trained in the martial arts and maintains a high level of fitness. He has stated that he will not go to prison, is possibly suicidal and may force an armed confrontation. Use extreme caution, HIERS is believed to be in possession of a .40 Glock pistol and and bullet-resistant vest.
On November 24, 2004, Hiers, 32, was arrested by the North Charleston Police Department for committing lewd acts on a child under the age of 16 and was released on bond. He was promptly suspended from the police force.
The Dorchester County, SC Sheriff’s Department subsequently filed additional charges against Hiers for first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor. Hiers was scheduled to surrender on those charges on March 15, 2005, but failed to meet his lawyer at the sheriff’s department. When Hiers’ mother looked for him at his house, he was nowhere to be found. What was found in Hiers’ bedroom was the body of his 24-year-old wife, Ludimila, killed with a gunshot to the head. Neighbors observed Hiers leaving the house several hours before the gruesome discovery was made. On March 31, 2005, the Goose Creek, SC Police Department obtained an arrest warrant for Hiers, alleging that he murdered his wife.
It all began months earlier when Hiers was first arrested by North Charleston Police after an 11-year-old girl accused him of molestation. Cops say Hiers had been sexually abusing the little girl he met at a karate center in West Ashley, S.C. Police say Hiers had been sexually assaulting the girl at her home and in his car, and North Charleston police arrested him in late November 2004. The child's mother says she trusted the former school resource officer who showed an extreme interest in the child and became a family friend.
There was no romantic involvement between Hiers and the girl's mother, who says, "I thought Dan was wonderful and I saw him as a positive role model." The woman, who is a single mother, says: "I thought we were lucky, that I finally had found a good father figure for my child."
Despite an intensive manhunt, South Carolina authorities have been unable to locate Hiers, and requested the assistance of “Operation Intercept”, a U.S. Marshals-led fugitive task force. The U.S. Marshals Service has obtained a federal warrant for Hiers for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
Hiers is described as a white male, age 32, 6’03”, 210 pounds with blues eyes and blond hair. He has eleven years of police experience, is trained in the martial arts, and maintains a high level of fitness. He is believed to be armed with a .40 caliber Glock pistol and may possess a bullet-resistant vest. The U.S. Marshals Service is offering a reward for information directly leading to Hiers’ arrest. He was last seen driving a red 2005 Chevrolet Aveo, SC Tag 486DEH.
July 21, 2009
A Chattahoochee [Florida] police officer arrested Saturday in Georgia on rape and child molestation charges is expected to make his first court appearance Friday, said Maj. Wendell Cofer of the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office. Cofer said Robert Sizemore was arrested on charges of rape, child molestation and aggravated sexual battery. The victim was a juvenile female under the age of 14.
Chattahoochee Police Chief Vann Pullen was summoned to the hotel by Georgia law enforcement officers to assist their team in getting Sizemore to surrender Saturday. Pullen and officers in Georgia say they have a high degree of confidence that what the victim alleges is true, based on some undisclosed circumstances related to the incident. Georgia authorities indicated further charges may be pending against Sizemore.
Cofer said Sizemore is currently undergoing medical treatment at an undisclosed hospital. Upon release, Cofer said he will be taken to the Decatur County Jail, unless the jail administrator decides to place him elsewhere because of his status as a former law-enforcement officer.
A news release from the city of Chattahoochee says Sizemore worked as an officer from Nov. 27, 2008, until the day of his arrest, when he was fired. He worked as a correctional officer with the Florida Department of Corrections from August 2007 until July 2008, and as an officer with the Blountstown Police Department from October 1982 to November 1992.
Chattahoochee Police Chief Vann Pullen was summoned to the hotel by Georgia law enforcement officers to assist their team in getting Sizemore to surrender Saturday. But Pullen said Sizemore gave himself up before Pullen was called upon to speak with him. Sizemore walked out of the room and was taken into custody, leaving a handgun behind in the room, Georgia authorities said.
Pullen and officers in Georgia say they have a high degree of confidence that what the victim alleges is true, based on some undisclosed circumstances related to the incident.
Pullen said Monday he blamed himself for not being able to see warning signs that he shouldn’t have hired Sizemore back in November. “We’re going to do what we can to assist (Georgia authorities) and make sure justice is attained,” Pullen said. “I have no sympathy for (Sizemore) and no excuses are going to be made. There’s no doubt I shouldn’t have let this guy be here ... I feel like there was some lack of something that I didn’t pick it up somewhere…
“We’ve got to do better than this, letting someone like this get this kind of power,” Pullen said. “I’m the one that hired him, and I just gotta take this pill. But I’m not the one with the real problem. The victim and her mother are the ones with the real problem.” Authorities said mental health services are being offered to the family.
July 29, 2009
A rookie cop who left the NYPD amid charges he raped a sleeping Georgia hairdresser was acquitted Wednesday by a jury. Kevin Johnson was "thrilled he's been exonerated and can move on with his life," defense lawyer Stuart London said of the verdict that capped a nine-day trial in Manhattan Supreme Court. Johnson was accused of attacking the hairdresser after meeting her and two female friends in a bar in April 2008 while off duty and going with them to their E.27th St. hotel room.
Witness Kim Swann, 33, testified she had consensual sex with Johnson while another woman slept on a cot and the hairdresser slept on the bathroom floor. Johnson was accused of pulling the woman's shirt up and pants down and raping her in the bathroom while she "dozed."
London, who early in the trial branded the hairdresser a "nut job," said her testimony was unbelievable due to "a bunch of factors," including her inability to remember details and the lack of DNA evidence. Asked if Johnson wants his old job back, London shrugged and said, "It's certainly a career he always wanted to have."
July 21, 2009
An off-duty cop begged three women not to call police after one of them accused him of raping her in a Manhattan hotel room, a witness testified Monday. "No, please don't call 911. This is a real big deal - I'm a police officer," Kevin Johnson pleaded, according to the witness, Kim Swann.
Johnson, who since has resigned from the NYPD, is charged with sexual assault for allegedly attacking Swann's friend in an E.27th St. hotel room in April 2008 when the Georgia women were in town for a hair styling convention.
Swann, 33, said she was sleeping in the hotel bed after having consensual sex with Johnson (black guy pictured left) when the attack on her friend occurred. Another woman slept on a cot, and the victim slept on the bathroom floor with a blanket and pillow. Swann said that shortly after she woke up the victim came out and confronted Johnson.
"Did he have sex with you?" Swann said she asked her pal, whose name is being withheld. "Yes, I woke up to him having sex with me," the woman allegedly told Swann.
Swann testified that the three women had met Johnson at a bar that night.
On cross-examination, Johnson's attorney Stuart London demanded to know if the victim had concocted the rape. He called her a "nut job" in his opening arguments at the trial in Manhattan Criminal Court. London said that his client didn't flee the hotel when cops were called, which he said was a sign that he was innocent.
Dennis Hughes Update
July 20, 2009
Former Cleveland (Tennessee) police officer Dennis Hughes appeared in Bradley County Court this morning. Hughes faces multiple charges and had the choice today to plea or go to trial. His attorney says a trial date has been set on the accusation he shot fellow police officer Christopher Mason in the hand last November (2008). Detectives say that happened in a Cleveland apartment during a game of Russian roulette.
Trial on that charge is scheduled for mid October (2009). The statutory rape charges against him will be tried later. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation arrested Hughes (pictured left) and former officer Nathan Thomas on charges of having sex with a teenage girl while still on the force. That accusation resulted in the charge of statutory rape by an authority figure.
Hughes has also been charged with just statutory rape on an accusation he had sex with the same underage teenage girl after he resigned.
See: Original Story
December 15, 2009
MINDEN, LA (KSLA) - MINDEN, La. (AP) - A former Minden police officer accused of raping a 15-year-old girl has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge rather than go to trial.
Daniel Murray's plea to cruelty to juveniles came Monday just before jury selection in state district court. The charge carries a sentence of up to 10 years.
District Judge Bruce Bolin ordered a presentence investigation. No sentencing date was set.
Murray was arrested in January 2009 after the accusation surfaced. A Webster Parish grand jury indicted him six months later, and he was subsequently fired. Murray has been in jail since his arrest.
July 8, 2009
A Minden, Louisiana police officer is now on the other side of a jail cell. Officer First Class Daniel Murray was arrested after reports that he allegedly raped and molested a 15-year-old friend of the family. On Monday, the Minden City Council unanimously voted to terminate Murray.
Murray had been on paid leave since January  when an investigation began into the sexual assault allegations. That changed back on June 19th to leave without pay following a Webster Parish grand jury indictment. Murray is currently being held in the Webster Parish Jail on a $400,000 bond.
Sexually Offensive Judges
• Judge Jack Gifford, Retired, Solicitation
• Judge Ronald C. Kline, Child Pornography
• Chief U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham, Solicitation