Few words can convey the horror of sexual assault. Victims suffer tremendous physical and emotional wounds that linger for the rest of their lives. Police officers — sworn to serve and protect — should never be the source of that damage. And if they are, they should’t get away with it as lightly as Alabama State Trooper Samuel H. McHenry II.

In December of last year, McHenry, 36, of Rutledge was accused of handcuffing a woman and sexually assaulting her. He was initially arrested and charged with first-degree rape and first-degree sodomy; however, those charges were later dropped after under the terms of his plea deal. On March 3, 2016, McHenry pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct and was sentenced to six months in jail.

You read that right. Six months. To be served at his discretion, within the next year.

McHenry was called to aid the victim on December 6 after she was involved in a car accident. After finding pill bottles and an empty nasal spray bottle in her car, McHenry handcuffed the victim, put her in the back of his police cruiser and drove her away from the scene of the accident. According to court documents, he then told the victim she was going to have to “F— me or go to jail.” After he raped her and forced her to perform oral sex, investigators say McHenry drove the victim to a closed store and let her out.

This disturbing incident is just one of many recent cases of police sexual misconduct. In a year-long investigation, the Associate Press found that almost 1,000 officers have lost their licenses over a six-year period over sex crimes or sex-related misconduct.That figure only covers the 41 states that track decertification records. During the investigation, nine states declined to provide information or said that they did not track officer misconduct.

 

If nothing else, let’s at least take the McHenry travesty as a loud, clear message: it’s time to get serious about stopping police officer rape.