No man (or woman) is incorruptible when it comes to power. Given the proper motivation, everyone will exert that power to get what they want. Is that not the point of power? But one police officer in Ohio took it too far. Phillipsburg cop, Justin Sanderson, used the power that he wields with the badge to coerce women into sexual acts and has no shame about it.
The 33-year-old ex-cop was facing 19 counts including rape and kidnapping. The charges are related to three separate incidents involving four women during May and June 2017. He was initially indicted on 21 charges including gross sexual imposition, rape, sexual battery, kidnapping and unauthorized use of the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway. In at least one incident, Sanderson was wearing his Phillipsburg Police uniform and had his police cruiser parked at a hotel parking lot. That woman filed the sexual assault report Monday, July 3.
Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Steven Dankof found Sanderson guilty Wednesday on 19 counts. The judge said the testimony from the witnesses, including the victims, were “credible in every material respect.”
Sanderson is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 12. He could face decades in prison according to the Dayton Daily News.
“We’re obviously very happy with the verdict,” Montgomery County Assistant Prosecutor Kelly Madzey said. “I think (Dankof’s) statements even at the beginning that he found each and every one of these women credible in all accounts speaks volumes to their ability to come forward and their willingness to stand up to this person who was in a position of power.”
Madzey called Sanderson a predator who used his gun and badge to shield him from crimes. She also believes that more victims are out there and encourages them to come forward. The assistant prosecutor mentioned that they will ask for “maximum consecutive sentences.”
As the trial came to a close, assistant prosecutor Dylan Smearcheck ran down the charges against the former officer. He started with a 21-year-old woman Sanderson stopped for suspicion of drunk driving. Sanderson reportedly took her back to the Phillipsburg village office. There he raped the woman.
The defense team argued that the sex was consensual. Madzey countered, “I suppose consent is the only argument you can make when your semen is on the floor of the council chambers building next to the DNA of a 21-year-old girl who is in your radio log but has no reason to be there.”
Then there were the allegations of a woman Sanderson picked up on an active warrant and two prostitutes whom Sanderson visited in a Vandalia hotel. Sanderson went to the hotel under the guise of investigating a claim of human trafficking. The police chief was not aware of a human trafficking investigation.
Sanderson ultimately confessed to investigators that he donned a condom but no sexual activity took place.
None of the victims knew each other aside from the two prostitutes from the hotel. All shared the same fear of coming forward with their claims of rape and kidnapping. They all feared they would be shamed and the allegations swept under the rug.
Madzey said the verdict is a powerful message to victims scared to come forward.
“We trust law enforcement officers to protect us,” she said. “His actions in this case are just that must more chilling and that much more terrifying for the victims and for the community.”