Here’s an outrage-inducing story that you’re likely to hear a lot about during what is shaping up to be an otherwise slow news week (although it would be no less horrifying if it were the busiest of weeks): A San Antonio police officer was arrested this past weekend for allegedly sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman during what should have been a routine traffic stop. Here’s the San Antonio Express-News with what we know so far about the troubling case:
[40-year-old] Jackie Len Neal … is accused of handcuffing and raping a woman he pulled over while on duty around 2 a.m. Friday. … Neal allegedly tailed a woman until she pulled over on Betty Street and stepped out of her vehicle. He turned on his overhead lights and requested that she get back inside. The woman complied with the order but left her door open, the report said.
Neal told the woman he was following her because the car she was driving was reported stolen, the woman told police. She showed the officer a sales slip for the recently purchased car. Officers could not confirm whether the vehicle was ever reported stolen.
Neal asked the woman to get out of the vehicle so he could pat her down, according to the affidavit. The woman said she felt uncomfortable and asked that a female officer pat her down, but her request was ignored. During the pat-down, the affidavit said, Neal groped the woman, placed her in handcuffs and moved her to the back of his patrol car. The document said he then raped her and instructed her not to tell anyone.
Neal is charged with felony sexual assault, and was released on $20,000 bond over the weekend. Like many police cruisers, Neal’s car was outfitted with on-board cameras to record video inside the vehicle and out of it. Neal’s particular video system, however, was missing the hard drive it needed to operate—something that police say Neal would have been fully aware of at the time of the alleged crime. The GPS in his car, meanwhile, showed it was stopped at the spot in question for about 18 minutes, according to police.
We’ve yet to hear Neal’s side of the story, but police say that the case can’t be an issue of consent. “There is no such thing as consensual sex on duty,” Police Chief William McManus told reporters. “I feel silly even saying that we won’t tolerate it. Of course we won’t tolerate it. There is no gray area. This is a criminal offense.”
Making the case even more troubling is that Neal was far from a model cop, and this isn’t his first brush with the law. According to police, the 11-year veteran faced a “similar” allegation a few years ago from a different woman. In that case, however, authorities were forced to drop the case after the alleged victim ultimately refused to testify. Separately, Neal was also officially disciplined for violating department policy when he dated an 18-year-old member of the department’s Police Explorer program, an effort to introduce young people to law enforcement careers. It was soon after that incident, police say, that Neal was transferred to a night shift.