Maryland Police Officer Charged with Sexual Assault
|thenorthstar||Sep 9, 2019|
A veteran Prince George’s County police officer was indicted for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman in 2017 while he was off-duty.
Lieutenant Richard Tallant was indicted by a Prince George’s County Grand Jury on a charge of second-degree sex offense, according to the Prince George’s County Police Department.
The alleged incident occurred when Tallant was “attending a social outing” in Upper Marlboro, Maryland in February 2017. According to the statement, Tallant and the alleged victim knew each other.
Tallant was suspended without pay in April when the department learned of the allegations, police said. The Internal Affairs Division launched an investigation into the allegations and brought the case to the State Attorney's office for consideration of criminal charges.
The Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s office investigated the incident, along with the police department’s Internal Affairs Division, and presented the case to the grand jury.
“As State’s Attorney, it is my job to pursue truth and seek justice for all victims of crime,” Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy said in a statement to The North Star. “My office will prosecute crimes of sexual assault no matter the professional status of the offender.”
In a separate statement to WAMU, Braveboy said that her office “has been very transparent, open, and cooperative and collaborative as we investigate allegations.” In August, two other Prince George’s County police officers were found guilty in separate cases.
On August 8, Corporal Stephen Downey was found guilty of second degree assault and misconduct following a three-day bench trial. Downey was accused of assaulting a citizen, Andre Verdier, who was handcuffed and wearing a seat belt in a patrol vehicle. The incident occurred on October 29, 2018 after Verdier was arrested at a CVS Pharmacy in Temple Hills.
According to the state’s attorney’s office, Verdier complained that his handcuffs were too tight, prompting Downey to yell at him. Downey then asked the arresting officer if there were cameras in his cruiser. When told there were no cameras, Downey then put on his gloves and punched Verdier in the face several times.
Verdier was treated for his injuries at Southern Maryland Hospital.
“This defendant abused his position and violated the rights of a citizen he was sworn to protect and now he will have to face the consequences of his unlawful actions,” Braveboy said after Downey was convicted.
Downey is scheduled to be sentenced on October 25 and faces up to 10 years in prison. Meanwhile, Officer Ian G. Lucas pleaded guilty in DC Superior Court on August 14 to sexual solicitation, DCist reported. He was charged with one count of sexual solicitation for an incident that occurred on November 10, 2018 in Washington, DC. Lucas and another officer from the Metropolitan Police Department were accused of coercing a transgender sex worker into performing sex acts in exchange for not arresting her. Lucas managed to get a plea deal that let him avoid arrest.
Court documents cited by DCist show that Lucas agreed to a deferred sentencing agreement, which requires the defendant to plead guilty. If Lucas meets the conditions of the agreement, the charges against him will be dismissed with prejudice at the time of his sentencing.
Prince George’s County Police Department said that Lucas’ police powers were suspended with pay since the allegations were brought to the department’s attention. The department said that it would continue an administrative investigation now that Lucas reached a guilty plea in court. No additional information about his employment has been released.
Braveboy told WAMU that these incidents involving Prince George’s County Police officers were not reflective of larger issues in the department. “I believe that these are individuals who are making really bad choices,” she said. “And when they make bad choices that are criminal we will hold them accountable.”
In a statement following Downey’s conviction, Police Chief Hank Stawinski said that it was the third time during his administration that officers reported misconduct committed by a fellow officer. “This is clear evidence to me of a police culture that is in line with the high expectations of the community,” he said. “This sort of conduct will not be tolerated by any of us.”
Tallant was arrested on September 3 and released on bail, according to WAMU. His trial date has not been set at the time of publication.
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.