State v. Torres
Carlos Torres was a Washington State Patrol trooper. He decided to use his authority to attempt to seduce women that he pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. One woman he pulled over on June 17, 2005, was named T.G. He arrested her. He began to tell her how beautiful she was. T.G. took a breath test, which revealed that her blood alcohol level was .055. That’s below the legal limit.
Mr. Torres then determined that T.G. would be released. He offered to drive her wherever she wanted to go. T.G. asked Mr. Torres if her fiancé could pick her up at the jail, but Mr. Torres told her to get into his patrol car.
Mr. Torres drove to a weigh station in Federal Way, where he fondled her breasts and vagina in his patrol car while she was locked in the back of the vehicle. T.G.’s fiancé and daughter showed up shortly thereafter and she ran to them crying.
Mr. Torres was later arrested and charged with and convicted of first degree sexual misconduct. Consent is not a defense to the crime. On appeal, he argued that the definition of “being detained” under the statute meant being restrained “pursuant to a lawful arrest.” The trial court had approved of a jury instruction that defined “being detained” to mean that there was a “restraint on freedom of movement to such a degree that a reasonable person would not have felt free to leave.” At the time of the groping, T.G. was not under arrest, but she was in a patrol car with a trooper that she was afraid might harm her.
The Court of Appeals affirmed, effectively holding that the legislature intended to criminalize behavior by law enforcement officers where the officers abused their authority for sexual gratification.
Note to cops: You have a lot of power. You have handcuffs and a gun. People you’ve arrested are fearful about what will happen to them. They believe you have lots of power and control over their future. They want to do anything and everything in their power at that moment to get themselves out of trouble. Don’t use your power for your own gratification or because your ego has been bruised. Also, don’t act “stupidly” by arresting or holding someone where you should rightly walk away from the situation.