Saturday, February 12, 2011

Lawrence, MA police officer sent away for 10-12 years for raping mother of two on duty

A former Lawrence, MA police officer was sentenced to 10-12 years imprisonment for raping a young mother of two who was drunkenly celebrating her 24th birthday. Sentencing took place on February 3, 2011 in Newburyport District Court by Judge Richard Welch.

Kevin Sledge Sr, 48, of Salem, NH, was also ordered to stay away from the victim, her family and her friend Regina Perry, undergo sex offender treatment, register as a sex offender, and serve 5 years of probation after leaving prison. Judge Welch said that while Sledge's family said that he was a supportive father and nephew, he was "a man who committed rape and indecent assault and battery," taking advantage of a woman who "was drunk as can be." The official charges a jury convicted Sledge of were three counts of indecent assault and battery and a single rape count.

He said he was trying to help the victim, who told him she was stranded and abandoned in downtown Lawrence that night. He said she asked him for a ride home to Nashua, N.H. He told her he could drive her to the police station.

When she refused to go into the police station lobby and wait for Perry there, Sledge said he allowed the woman to wait in his car parked out back. The victim says after she was picked up by Sledge, he drove her to the police station where he was on duty. She said he returned to his car several times to rape and assault her.

Sledge, a police officer for 17 years, raped and repeatedly assaulted the woman in his personal car, a silver Jaguar he parked behind the police station on Sept. 26, 2008. Sledge was assigned to the booking room and repeatedly left his post to go to his car to rape and fondle the woman. When arrested, he was immediately suspended from the department and stripped of his paycheck once indicted.

The trial was Sledge's second trial - the first trial ended in a mistrial. Prosecutor Kate MacDougall asked for a 12-15 years sentencing, citing the "sacred trust" Sledge violated and that he used his police officer status to facilitate "disgraceful and shameful behavior." MacDougall read a victim impact statement from the victim. The statement said that the attack affected her parenting ability. Her son missed school because she was too scared to walk his to school. She eventually sucummbed to depression, and was evicted from her apartment and ended up with her children in homeless shelters. 

"Every time, I (saw) a silver car, I put my head down and my heart would pound hoping it wasn't him," "Never would I have thought trusting a police officer was gonna end in a disaster," she said. "I thought I had no chance going up against a cop, but I did it anyways."

Defense attorney John Morris asked Welch to impose a 3- to 5-year prison sentence, pointing to the many letters of support Sledge's extended family had written on his behalf to Welch. Morris read a letter in court from Kevin Sledge Jr., Sledge's 21-year-old son, who is a sophomore in college. Sledge Jr. described his father as his best friend and a person who loves him unconditionally. He also said he was disappointed by his dad's choices. "I cannot imagine what my life would be like without him. He taught me to be a hard worker ... to never quit," Sledge Jr. wrote. "I am proud to call him my dad."

Morris also said Sledge suffers from congestive heart failure, a condition he was diagnosed with in August. In addition to heart valve and blood flow problems, Sledge also has a herniated disk in his back and nerve damage that resulted from a cruiser accident he was involved in as a police officer, Morris said.

Judge Welsh told the victim, "You displayed remarkable courage when you testified...Hopefully you can build on that." Shawn Sledge, 40, the perpetrator's nephew, said "[The sentence is] somewhat harsh ... I do understand the judge's comments that he was a police officer and a protector of the law. I understand the decision he made, even though I don't think it's the right one."

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