Female Officer Alledges Sexual Assault By On-Duty Officers

GREENSBORO N.C. Dec. 29, 2007 — A female police officer reported she was sexually assaulted two weeks ago, and the suspects are three male police officers who were on duty at the time.

Police officials released that information Thursday, after the City Council voted unanimously to make the information public.

The alleged assault, which is being investigated by the Greensboro Police Department's criminal and internal affairs divisions, took place in a vehicle sometime between 11 p.m. Dec. 14 and 1 a.m. Dec. 15, Assistant Chief Gary Hastings said Thursday.

Sgt. A.S. Wallace, 43; Officer J.O. LeGrand, 37; and Officer C.S. Stevens, 42, have been suspended with pay since Dec. 18, when the department began its criminal and administrative investigations. The three are assigned to the Tactical Special Enforcement Team, which investigates street-level drug sales and other activities associated with violent crime.

The police department doesn't release names of victims of alleged sexual assault, Hastings said. The News & Record doesn't identify the victims of alleged sexual assault.

According to Hastings, the female officer reported that she and a friend were leaving the area of Four Seasons Town Centre — Hastings wouldn't be more specific — when they saw Wallace, LeGrand and Stevens.

The three on-duty officers allegedly offered them a ride, Hastings said, which they accepted. The alleged victim said the sexual assault occurred "in transit," Hastings said, but it's unclear whether they were in a department-owned vehicle.

Hastings said there is only one alleged victim, the female officer, who filed her complaint with the police department's Internal Affairs Division.Hastings said the criminal investigation is under way; an administrative investigation will follow when that's complete.

The issue of whether to release details of the allegation — and more information in general — has caused a rift among the new City Council, sworn into office less than a month ago.

The council voted to make the details of the investigation public after emerging from a private 40-minute meeting Thursday, which Councilwomen Mary Rakestraw and Trudy Wade refused to attend. The two said the discussion should take place in public.

Wade, in fact, asked the council to release the information without holding a private meeting. She was supported by Rakestraw, Councilman Mike Barber and Councilwoman Sandra Anderson Groat — one vote shy of what she needed to prevent the private meeting.

Councilwoman T. Dianne Bellamy-Small called Wade's tactic an "ambushing of ideas" that "makes us look like we don't know what the heck we're doing."

Yet even Bellamy-Small voted for the information's release, just moments after she warned that doing so would set a dangerous precedent for the public release of confidential personnel information.

The council can release personnel information if doing so is in the public's best interest.

Until Thursday, the police department and city legal staff said details of the alleged assault that are normally public — including the date, time, location and nature of the alleged assault — were protected under personnel laws because of the administrative investigation.

The News & Record disagrees. By its own admission, the Greensboro Police Department is conducting a criminal investigation — the details of which are subject to the state's public record laws.

The newspaper filed suit Thursday in Guilford County Superior Court seeking the information. Editor John Robinson said Thursday that he will consult with legal counsel today about whether to pursue the suit.

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