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State Attorney alleges Lakeland PD sexual misconduct | News

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State Attorney alleges Lakeland PD sexual misconduct
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Lakeland, FL - Allegations are being made of a culture of on-duty sex -- sometimes against a woman's will -- for years in the Lakeland Police Department.

It involves high-ranking officers and very concerning statements that the woman involved felt forced into the encounters by the men's rank and influence.

See Also: Lakeland Police make woman shake bra during search

There are also allegations the victim of the unwilling encounters confided in other staff members at the police department --including a victim's advocate -- but those people did not report the disturbing news to their bosses.

In a report sent to Lakeland's police chief, Polk County State Attorney Jerry Hill said his staff spent two-and-a-half months interviewing several people. It lists numerous encounters between a civilian analyst and 10 male current or former officers.

Most encounters were described as consensual at police headquarters, in patrol cars, and other places like a church and cemetery. The report said some of the accusations, like sending obscene photos, would be considered sexual harassment in most workplaces.

But there are many times where the woman involved said she was pressured into sex acts, trying to say no, but doing it because she feared retaliation.  She would allegedly be cornered in an office or in an unmarked police car.

The report says some of those allegations would be felonies if they were reported and confirmed.

The report also says the woman involved came forward because "she feels like she has been victimized, sexually harassed, and taken advantage of. She indicated that she now wants something to be done about it."

State Attorney Hill suggested that the ongoing sexual underworld at the department has crippled the agency and even harmed criminal investigations and trials in court.

"Had these members of your department been more focused on the important responsibilities of law enforcement, rather than pursuing sexual encounters with a civilian analyst, the LPD might not be in the condition it is today."

The report condemns several employees who failed to intervene when the woman shared with them what was happening and asked for help.

In a news release, City of Lakeland spokesman Kevin Cook said both the State Attorney and FDLE started their investigations after Lakeland Police asked for outside assistance.

In the statement, Cook said: "The City of Lakeland and the Lakeland Police Department take these charges very seriously and will discipline those that have violated policy and a full update will be given once the internal investigation is concluded."

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