Throughout the state of Florida and the entire country, police officers are known to abuse their power in various ways. In some instances, this misuse of authority manifests itself in officers attempting to rape or otherwise sexually abuse citizens and even other people employed by the same police department. An incident in Highlands County shows just how these situations can unfold during routine activities.
Attempted rape of another deputy while on duty
An event at a local college required the presence of a few Highlands County Sheriff’s Deputies to discuss a program with students. At the conclusion of the presentation, most of the police officers involved left for other duties, but a female deputy was left alone with the perpetrator. His name is Zachary Lehman. She alleges that while they were alone together Lehman did not allow her to leave, groped her, and made forceful sexual advances towards her. The female deputy stated that Lehman only stopped and allowed her to go after she threatened to scream. Lehman was arrested shortly after the claim was investigated and he was charged with felonies for attempted sexual battery and armed kidnapping. Court filings later revealed that Lehman attempted to say their encounter was consensual.
How to get help after an incident
If some police officers are willing to go as far assaulting their own co-workers while on duty, members of the general public are even more vulnerable to this kind of behavior. Some officers have been known to try to take advantage of victims or suspects during their investigations, because they believe no one will do anything to punish their inappropriate behavior. It is best for victims to both inform the officer’s department and retain legal help as soon as possible in these kinds of situations. Police officers are subject to the same laws as the rest of us, and sexual violence is criminal behavior regardless of whether the suspect is an officer or not.
While criminal charges may be filed against the officer and the department may discipline them based on allegations of sexual violence, it is also important to file a civil lawsuit for monetary damages. A lawyer may allege negligent hiring by the department, or bring other related civil claims based on the incident. Afterwards, the local municipality may want to pay out a settlement to the victim to minimize negative publicity, as police departments do not want to be known as entities that harbor rapists.
Keep in mind that the related criminal charges or pending disciplinary action by the officer’s superiors are separate issues, and they do not prevent a lawyer from filing a lawsuit on your behalf. There are a number of different forms of police misconduct and lawyers have the ability to sue a police officer and the department that employs them for any inappropriate actions. This is because the civil court system is designed to provide compensation for injuries and trauma caused by the reckless behavior of others.
Contact a Lawyer in Highlands County
There are local lawyers in Highlands County Florida who deal extensively with issues of police misconduct. They can speak with you, evaluate your situation, and recommend the best course of action. With their help, your compensation may be substantial.