EAST ST. LOUIS — A former East St. Louis police officer will serve 30 months in prison on charges relating to coercing a sex act from a female driver.
Former patrolman Ramone T. Carpenter was indicted last year on charges that he lied to federal agents who were investigating a civil rights complaint. Carpenter and another officer, Christopher Parks, had already been fired by East St. Louis police.
According to the charges, Carpenter and Parks stopped a 25-year-old woman who was driving while intoxicated, had no valid driver's license or insurance for the vehicle she was driving.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Weinhoeft asked U.S. District Judge Michael J. Reagan to sentence Carpenter to 36 months. Defense attorney William Stiehl Jr. asked for a split sentence partial probation and partial house arrest.
The 40-year-old Carpenter had no prior criminal history and was not likely to get in any trouble again, Stiehl argued.
Weinhoeft said what the former officer did was a serious offense.
He said Carpenter not only lied the first time the FBI agents talked to him about it, but he repeatedly lied. Weinhoeft said there have been numerous city officials and members of law enforcement in the area who have committed serious crimes while on duty and that a message needed to be sent to deter future police officers from committing similar offenses.
The victim testified at Carpenter's sentencing Thursday afternoon in front of Reagan that she performed the sex act on Carpenter because she was afraid he was going to take her to jail and report to DCFS that she had left her four children who were 10, 9, 8, and 1 home alone. She said she didn't break any laws that would justify a police stop. But, she said when she left the Citgo at 25th Street and Louisiana, where she had gone to buy some cognac, she saw two officers sitting side by side talking to each other. She drove off and had gotten about a block away from them when she saw flashing police lights in her rear view mirror.
She testified that she was instructed to roll her window down by Carpenter. She was crying because she was afraid she was going to jail for not having a license, insurance and was driving while intoxicated.
The victim said she had been arrested previously about seven or eight times for driving without a valid license. On those occasions, because she couldn't afford to bond out of jail, she always got out after serving the time. She knew her four children would be home alone without an adult present if she went to jail. She said she didn't have any money to post her bond.
Carpenter and Parks, knew the victim had been drinking since about 9:30 p.m. and the police stop was at 2:45 a.m. Parks, while searching her car, found open alcohol and poured it out. Still, the two of them allowed the victim to drive to her apartment, where Carpenter said, through testimony he made prior to the FBI, that they took the victim to her apartment and searched the closets, the kitchen and bathroom looking for her boyfriend, who the victim had told him she feared.
The victim said that was not true. She said Carpenter and Parks said they wanted to search her house. Weinhoeft told Reagan that the victim's fourth amendment rights were violated.
"There's no question there was no basis to stop the vehicle and no reason to detain her. The victim, Weinhoeft said, was credible when she described the way she was frisked. It wasn't a frisk. There was nothing proper about it. He said what Carpenter did was "groping, fondling -- something that was sexually inappropriate."
Weinhoeft said the victim felt threatened that she would be arrested and her children would be being taken away if the police officers filed a report with the DCFS telling them that she had left them home alone while she went out to buy alcohol, and that was clearly the reason why the victim performed a sex act on Carpenter in a secluded part of Jones Park.
He said Carpenter nor Parks called the dispatcher to let her know of the traffic stop, where they were or anything proper that police do.
Stiehl argued that the victim was a former prostitute who had worked at the Chameleon Club in Washington Park and got paid to perform sexual acts.
The victim said she hadn't done that type of work in two years and denied she did a sexual act with Carpenter for pay.
Stiehl portrayed her as a woman scorned. He said when the victim learned that Carpenter didn't have any money ($30) to pay her and that he was married, she became upset. He pointed out that the victim was never handcuffed, was riding in the front seat of Carpenter's squad car and that the two of them never spoke a word while riding in the car.
The victim said she thought Carpenter was taking her to the East St. Louis Police Department, but the way he went was not in the direction of the Police Department.
"I was not sure where I was going," she said.
At the park, "He asked me to have sex with him. I lied and told him I was on my menstruation. Then, he told me to have oral sex with him. Before I could answer, he had his pants unzipped and his private out. I knew I had to do it because he was a police officer. I didn't want to do it," she said crying and wiping tears from her eyes.
Afterward, Carpenter dropped the victim off at her apartment. She called her grandmother, a brother and sister and told them of the ordeal. A brother took her to the East St. Louis Police Department about 11 a.m. to file a police report.
Stiehl said the victim had the opportunity to tell Parks that she didn't want to have sex with Carpenter and didn't. He contended that the sex was consensual.
The victim said Carpenter turned his police radio off and turned his radio music up while he was driving to the Park. She said she didn't know where he was going until he arrived at the park. The victim said he told her that he was not going to answer any calls on his police radio.
Stiehl asked her why she didn't tell the other officer (Parks) to make Carpenter stop or tell him that she didn't want him to touch her. The victim said "He was standing there watching:.
Weinhoeft said the victim's 14 amendment right of due process body integrity had been violated.
"This was not about a romantic encounter," he said. Weinhoeft said she may have engaged in prostitution at some other time, "but not on May 8."
"She acquiesced to authority," Weinhoeft said.
Reagan told Carpenter that he had an obligation to be truthful when he spoke to the FBI. He said the judicial system does not work if people are not truthful
"No one knows that better than a police officer," he said.
"Police officers need to protect, not exploit. The victim is not a poster child. But, people like her in East St. Louis, downtrodden and distraught, deserve and need police protection. But they get the only two police officers on the street in Jones Park committing a sex act and the other one is covering for him," Reagan said. He pointed out that nationally the numbers are horrific for violent crimes, but in East St.. Louis sometimes the numbers are double the national stats.
He also pointed out that there are many good officers in East St. Louis who bring dignity to the badge.
Carpenter choked up and sometimes wiped tears from his eyes as he apologized to his family, the city of East St. Louis and to his fellow police officers.
He said his marriage was over and that he had nothing. He said that person on May 8 was not him.
"That was not me your honor. All I know is work. I lost my wife, my three kids, my job and my future. I don't have anything. It's been rough. That's all I have to say," Carpenter said, wiping his eyes. Then he took his seat behind his attorney at the defense table. Reagan allowed him to surrender when the U.S. Marshall Service calls him to report to the Bureau of Prisons.