Former "hero cop" Richard DeCoatsworth was charged Monday with rape and human trafficking, after he allegedly forced two women to perform sexual acts at gunpoint.
DeCoatsworth was labeled a "hero" after he was shot in the face during a traffic stop. At the height of his fame, DeCoatsworth was seated next to First Lady Michele Obama at a presidential address in 2009, reports the Philadelphia Daily News.
Despite all his medals and past heroism, DeCoatsworth could be facing serious prison time if convicted of these charges.
Many details of Richard DeCoatsworth's alleged acts remain unclear, but authorities stated that the former "hero cop" left a party early Thursday with two women. At a second location, he allegedly forced them to use narcotics and engage in sexual acts, reports the Associated Press.
In Pennsylvania, rape occurs when a perpetrator uses force or the threat of force to engage in sexual intercourse with another person.
If convicted, DeCoatsworth could face up to 20 years in prison for each count of rape, and may face even more penalties if any of the alleged narcotics were so-called "date rape" drugs.
Most Americans relate "human trafficking" to the international practice of abusing women and young girls by shipping them across the globe for slave labor and/or sex.
However, Pennsylvania's definition of human trafficking includes transporting persons and forcing victims to perform labor or services even if they're only transported for a short distance.
In this case, DeCoatsworth allegedly moved the women to a second location, and forced them at gunpoint to perform some sort of sexual acts, which may constitute human trafficking.
Prior Violent Acts
It may not be too difficult to prove that DeCoatsworth was violent in his upcoming criminal case if a jury is allowed to listen to evidence his prior violent acts.
Generally, character evidence or evidence of past conduct is not admissible in court, but there are some exceptions such as:
- When a prior conviction is a necessary element of the charge,
- When a defendant brings up character in his defense, or
- When evidence is used to prove something other than the defendant acting consistent with past character.
In "Hero cop" Richard DeCoatsworth's case, his criminal defense lawyer may try to introduce evidence of his prior illustrious career in law enforcement. However, that may end up as a liability if prosecutors can fire back with evidence of police misconduct and claims of violence.
- Hero cop, who sat next to the first lady, charged with rape (CNN)
- NYPD 'Cannibal Cop's' Trial Continues (FindLaw's Blotter)
- ChristianMingle.com Rape Suspect Arrested (FindLaw's Blotter)
- 9th Circuit to Hear Prop 35 Sex Trafficking Case? (FindLaw's U.S. Ninth Circuit Blog)