BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — An ex-Alabama state trooper who was accused of raping a woman while he was on duty was sentenced to six months in jail after he pleaded guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor sexual misconduct charge.
Felony charges of rape and sodomy against Samuel McHenry II were dismissed as part of a plea agreement he filed in Butler County District Court in Greenville.
McHenry's Alabama Peace Officers' Standards and Training Commission certification will be revoked and he'll have to register as a sex offender, according to the plea agreement.
The plea deal comes amid increased national attention on allegations of sexual misconduct by law enforcement officers. In a yearlong investigation of sexual misconduct by U.S. law enforcement, The Associated Press learned of about 1,000 officers who lost their badges in a six-year period for offenses including rape and propositioning citizens for sex while on duty. The figure includes only officers whose licenses have been revoked. Not all states take such action, maintain accurate records or have a statewide system to decertify officers for misconduct.
In McHenry's case, the trooper drove a woman away from the scene of a car accident the night of Dec. 6 and threatened to take her to jail if she didn't have sex with him, according to a warrant. The former trooper made the demands after he found pill bottles and an empty nasal spray bottle in her car at the accident scene, investigators have said.
McHenry drove the woman to a closed store after having sex with her, then let her out and drove off, investigators have said. Alabama Law Enforcement Agency spokesman Sgt. Steve Jarrett said McHenry began working as a trooper in 2009.
McHenry was ordered to report to the Butler County Jail by March 12 and pay court costs, fines and crime victims' compensation fees.
Officials at the Alabama Attorney General's Officer were not immediately available to comment on McHenry's plea deal Friday morning.
"Both sides have to agree to it, so in that sense there was that discussion about is this acceptable to both sides," said James Williamson, one of the attorneys who represented McHenry. Williamson said state prosecutors offered McHenry the plea deal.
Prosecutors and McHenry's defense team reached an agreement after about three hours of negotiations, said Judge J. MacDonald Russell Jr., adding that judicial ethics rules prevent him from giving further details on the case.
"I suppose the court can always refuse a plea bargain but that's not done very often," he said. "I've never refused a plea bargain that the parties have hammered out and worked on since they know the facts."