Police officers accused of covering up trafficking ring for free sex
Top police officials in Fairfax, VA “secured sexual services from trafficked women” in an apparent collusion with criminals, according to a lawsuit. It also alleges an investigating detective has been forced to stay quiet.
At least 13 officers from the Fairfax County Police Department, including high-ranking ones, have for years undermined an investigation into a trafficking ring in Northern Virginia, according to a federal lawsuit that was recently filed by a civil rights attorney representing one of the victims.
The officers, some now retired, allegedly “secured sexual services from trafficked women, and may also have extorted money from the ring’s leadership,” the complaint seen by US journalists claims. Victimized women were forced to provide free sexual services to some of the cops, who were apparently aware the women had been “made to engage in commercial sex services by means of force, fraud or coercion.”
In exchange for sex acts, police officers, including a captain and the former chief, hindered an investigation by providing information to the sex trafficking ring leadership that would protect it from law enforcement, according to the suit.
“Police officials regularly derided the notion that trafficked women were victims, insisting instead that they were simply prostitutes willingly engaged in unlawful commercial activity,” the document says.
One of the victims, referred to as Jane Doe, came to the US from Costa Rica in 2010. The single mother claims she was forced into prostitution, with her passport taken away. She was also threatened that her family would be harmed if she tried to escape, so she worked for the sex trafficking ring for five years. Thanks to her later tip, in 2019 the FBI arrested the ring’s female boss, who pleaded guilty to sex trafficking-related charges and was put behind bars. At least two county officers were involved in the ring in some capacity, the FBI then found.
Threats mentioning apparent harm to family were also made by police officials to a lone detective who tried to look into the sex trafficking case, the lawsuit alleges. William Woolf, who worked as the sole member of the department’s federally funded human trafficking taskforce, was told to “keep [his] mouth shut.” In an apparent threat, a lieutenant in the department allegedly told Woolf, “You have six kids, you have to think about them.” The detective eventually dropped the investigation.
The attorney who originally filed the lawsuit in October has recently amended it with information including the identities of police officials accused of misconduct. Prior to that, he said, he sought a monetary settlement and some level of accountability for the officers, trying to negotiate with the county to avoid filing the lawsuit. He said he didn’t want a further emotional burden for his client but, he shared with AP, he was told “to go pound sand.”