Thursday, October 12, 2006

Court of Appeals affirms finding that a defendant police officer violated the due process rights of victims that he sexually assaulted

United States v. Guidry
2006 WL 1991258
U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

After being convicted of (1) deprivation of civil rights by kidnapping, (2) violation of constitutional rights to bodily integrity by sexual assault, (3) carrying a firearm during and in relation to the sexual assault, and (4) conspiring to deprive five women of their due process right to bodily integrity, the defendant police officer argued on appeal that the evidence was insufficient to prove that he conspired to deprive the victims of their due process rights.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, reasoning as follows:

“Government officers violate another’s substantive due process rights when their actions can properly be characterized as arbitrary, or conscience shocking, in a constitutional sense.”

This Court determined that the evidence was sufficient after viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution and found that a jury could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant officer committed the following elements of the crime in that he: (1) conspired to injure, oppress, threaten or intimidate one or more of the victims, (2) with the intent to interfere with the victim’s due process rights, (3) under the color of state law.

This Court concluded that a jury could reasonably conclude that the defendant’s behavior was “conscience-shocking” and that he deprived the victims of their due process rights when he, along with a fellow officer, conspired to intimidate the five women that they arrested and took into custody when they led the group of women into a room that was not equipped with video surveillance and began bartering for the women’s release by suggesting that they engage in sexual acts with the officers and that the officers did engage in non-consensual sexual activity. The Court further reasoned that a jury could find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant officer and his fellow officer were intimidating to the women and that they used their position of authority because they were in uniform, wearing badges, carrying weapons, and were the only officers on duty.