In the past decade, a law enforcement official in the U.S. was caught in a case of sexual abuse or misconduct at least every five days, reports the Buffalo News. Nearly all were men. Nearly all victims were women, and a surprising number were adolescents. Details of more than 700 credible cases from the last decade are available, county by county and state by state. No federal agency tracks job-related sexual misconduct by police officers. The News combed through news reports and court records to compile a database.
In more than 70 percent of the cases, officers wielded their authority over motorists, crime victims, informants, students and young people in job-shadowing programs. Then there were covert acts. One officer on patrol would hunt for WiFi signals and use them to collect child pornography. Another secretly photographed girls' underwear. The actual numbers are almost certainly higher. Sex offenses go widely unreported even when cops are not suspects. Victims may be even less likely to report offenses when they fear it will be their word versus an officer’s. Police often prey on accursers with weak credibility, such as prostitutes, addicts or parolees. “This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said former police officer Timothy Maher, now a criminal justice professor in St. Louis, whose research shows that police sexual misconduct is under-reported. Maher says most officers do not commit felony sex crimes. Still, he believes many offenses never come to light or are swept under the rug.