January 11, 2021 Feature

Investigating and Prosecuting Sexual Misconduct Committed by Law Enforcement: Federal Criminal Jurisdiction

Fara Gold

A woman who had long since completed her court-ordered probation sat across from two federal prosecutors and an FBI agent, anxious yet relieved that she finally had summoned the courage to report what her probation officer did to her all those years ago. Her probation officer had repeatedly, and with impunity, sexually abused her during the course of her supervision. He was adept at telling her—and telling all of his other victims—that he could get away with it because no one was going to believe the word of a convicted felon over his. It was a veritable “he said/she said,” and she thought he was right. Who would believe that she was telling the truth if she reported him? With that in mind, knowing that he literally had the power to take away her freedom, she silently endured the abuse, confiding only in a family member for solace. It was not until years later when she learned that federal authorities were investigating that probation officer for sexually abusing another probationer that she dared come forward.

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