DwightLouisiana and Texas
One day in 1986, in the Louisiana town where I grew up, a police officer drove up beside me as I was walking home from my grandparents’ house. The officer asked me a series of questions. Then he asked me if I would like a ride home. He said I could sit in the front seat. I knew his entire family, and I had never been in a police car before, so I didn’t feel like I was in any danger. At that time my perception of police officers was positive.
I got in his car and buckled up. But instead of going to my parents’ home, we went in the opposite direction. I asked him where we were going. He said something about me going to jail and then a boy’s institution, for a burglary. I asked him, “What burglary?” He told me not to worry about it.
We got to the end of the street, and turned left onto a deserted country road. He told me that he was going to make the charge disappear, and I asked him how. He said, “I love them young boys, but you can’t tell your mother or father. No one.” “Tell them what?” I asked. He reached for my lower area. I resisted. He said he wasn’t going to hurt me. He unzipped my pants and touched me. I was scared and very uncomfortable. He was doing the same to himself. He tried to force me to do something to him. I was very scared. I jumped out of the car and ran home.
My parents immediately took me to the hospital and contacted a lawyer. The only thing the police department did was suspend the officer with pay. The officer never got charged. A small settlement was given to my family to drop it. I was very young and vulnerable, and it was a small town. I found out later that a lot of sexual abuse happened in that town, and people turned the other way. The police constantly came up with bogus reasons to harass me and my family. This incident had a lot to do with my family leaving Louisiana for Texas — where I would encounter another sexually abusive police officer, 23 years later.
I can vividly remember the day. It was March of 2009, and I was locked up in a Texas county jail. I was housed on the sixth floor, and brought to the first floor for a court appointment. When I got there, I notified an officer, who took me to a holding area. There were holding rooms with several offenders in them, but I was placed in a room by myself. After about 30 minutes, the officer came back to my door and asked me a couple of personal questions. Then she said, “Let me see it.” She pointed to my private area. I was upset and confused. I reported it to an officer I trusted. He told me to speak to the Office of the Inspector General, and he briefed them about the incident. They took a report, and told me I would not be bothered again by that unprofessional officer.
Afterwards, I became depressed and started taking anti-depression medication. I was ashamed, confused, felt violated, and was uneasy at times — especially when I thought about the incident. I was affected mentally and emotionally. I don’t trust officers, to a certain extent. I have depressive stages, and with all the incidents that have occurred, at times it becomes difficult.
Looking back, and knowing what I know now, I completely realize that sexual harassment comes in both subtle and direct ways. And, it needs to be immediately reported to a job supervisor, law enforcement department, or lawyer, because no man or woman should be sexually harassed or sexually abused by anyone.
People in authority are sometimes predators, and you have to be careful. With all that has happened to me, if it wasn’t for JDI supporters, I would’ve committed suicide, and that’s why I am completely, wholeheartedly, committed to the fight to end sexual abuse in detention and outside of it.
— Dwight, Louisiana and TexasBack