Rabb fights to stop sexual assaults in police custody by closing dangerous loophole

HARRISBURG, May 11 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., is fighting to close a dangerous legal loophole in Pennsylvania’s sexual assault law by pushing legislation that would better protect all residents.

Currently in Pennsylvania, a police officer who sexually assaults a person in custody can use sexual consent by the individual as a defense in court. Rabb plans to introduce a bill that would:

  • Expand the commonwealth’s definition of institutional sexual assault to include law enforcement officers and any person in the officer’s custody.
  • Eliminate sexual consent as a defense.
  • Make any sexual contact between an officer and a person in custody a third-degree felony.

“Police officers are supposed to use their authoritative power to protect the public, not prey on the innocent,” Rabb said. “I find it ludicrous that this major oversight in our legal system has received such minor attention. Everyone has rights and no one deserves this type of mistreatment, no matter what your criminal history.”

Similar legislation has passed in New York state. According to a Buffalo News database, more than 700 allegations of sexual misconduct by law enforcement officers across the country, between 2006 and 2015, showed a repeating pattern of officers using their position to force women in custody to perform sexual acts. In at least 26 cases, charges were dropped or the officer was acquitted.