DAYTON, Ohio – A former police officer in an Ohio village was sentenced Wednesday to 43 years in prison for sexually assaulting four women while on duty, including two women he had taken to the police station, The Detroit News reported.
The crimes of Justin Sanderson, 33, are “reprehensible and disturbing,” Montgomery County prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. said in a statement after the sentencing.
Sanderson, an officer in the Montgomery County village of Phillipsburg, said in court that he still considers himself innocent, the Dayton Daily News reported. Judge Steven Dankof, who found him guilty of rape, kidnapping and gross sexual imposition during a bench trial in late August, said it was the court’s “darkest voyage” into a man’s actions.
As a result, Sanderson, of Huber Heights, won’t be eligible for parole for 33 years.
A person who answered the phone at his attorneys’ office said no one was available to comment.
According to prosecutors, Sanderson was arrested in July 2017 after two women told police they had agreed to have sex at a motel with someone they had connected with on Backpage.com, a classified ad website shut down this year by federal authorities.
The women said Sanderson came to their room in uniform, told them he was investigating human trafficking and prostitution, and gave them a warning, reported Fox News.
“This defendant used his authority as a police officer to force four victims into sexual activity. Not only will he never be in a position of authority in the future, but he will be unable to victimize anyone else.”
– Mat Heck Jr., Montgomery County Prosecutor
They said Sanderson left, returned a short time later and had sex with them. Subsequent to their actions, they told police they thought they had no choice because he was a police officer, prosecutors said.
Following his arrest, two other women promptly stepped forward, prosecutors said. One woman said Sanderson stopped her for DUI in May 2017 and forced her to have sex at the police station. A second woman said she was forced into sexual conduct after her arrest on a warrant.
Sanderson resigned from the department in July 2017, the prosecutor’s office said.
“This defendant used his authority as a police officer to force four victims into sexual activity,” Heck said. “Not only will he never be in a position of authority in the future, but he will be unable to victimize anyone else.”
A 2015 investigation by The Associated Press found about 1,000 officers nationwide who lost their licenses in a six-year period for sexual crimes and misconduct.