- A Columbus, Ohio, police officer was arrested Monday on charges of kidnapping two women under the guise of arresting them, then forcing them to have sex “for their freedom.”
- Andrew Mitchell, 55, is charged with depriving the women of their civil rights, tampering with witnesses, obstructing justice, and lying to the FBI.
- Authorities are still searching for other potential victims.
A 30-year veteran of the police department in Columbus, Ohio, was arrested Monday after a bombshell federal indictment accused him of kidnapping women under the guise of arresting them, then forcing them to have sex “for their freedom.”
Andrew Mitchell, a vice detective for the Columbus Division of Police, has been charged with three counts of deprivation of civil rights, two counts of witness tampering, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of lying to the FBI. His attorney told the Daily Beast that Mitchell plans to plead not guilty.
The indictment alleges Mitchell kidnapped his first victim in July 2017 and forced her to perform oral sex on him. He allegedly kidnapped a second victim twice – once in September 2017 and once in May or June of 2018 – and forced her to have vaginal and anal sex with him, according to the Department of Justice.
“The conduct alleged in this indictment by Andrew Mitchell is shocking and revolting,” FBI special agent-in-charge Todd Wickerham told local Ohio reporters in a press conference. “Mitchell engaged in this conduct while a police officer – sworn to uphold the law, but used his trusted position to victimize.”
Wickerham said it was the Columbus police department that first flagged Mitchell’s conduct to the FBI, which launched an investigation.
When Mitchell learned that federal investigators were looking into the arrests, the indictment alleges Mitchell obstructed justice and tampered with three witnesses.
The DOJ said he also lied to the FBI, telling investigators he had never had sex with a prostitute, despite having done so with “numerous prostitutes,” according to prosecutors.
The police department and the FBI have put out calls for any other potential victims of Mitchell to come forward.
“This investigation is not over and we’re asking for the public to provide any additional information regarding criminal conduct on his or anybody else’s behalf,” Wickerham said.
MESSAGE FROM CHIEF TOM QUINLAN:
The community has every right to be disgusted by the allegations against Officer Andrew Mitchell as well as anyone who wears the badge. He'll be held accountable for his actions. I ask for continued support for our officers who honor our profession pic.twitter.com/KG96Rut2pA
— Columbus Ohio Police (@ColumbusPolice) March 11, 2019
Columbus Chief of Police Tom Quinlan said in a statement that the department launched its own investigation upon learning of the allegations, vowing that Mitchell would be “held accountable for his actions.”
“The community has every right to be disgusted by the allegations against Officer Andrew Mitchell as well as anyone who wears the badge,” Quinlan said on Twitter. “I ask for continued support for our officers who honour our profession.”
Mitchell has been detained since his arrest on Monday, and is set to appear in court on Wednesday for a detention hearing, according to court documents.
The alleged kidnappings weren’t the first time Mitchell found himself at the center of a police investigation. The FBI and Columbus police department are also investigating a prostitution sting Mitchell was involved in that ended in a fatal shooting last summer, according to the local CBS affiliate WBNS-TV.
Police have said Mitchell shot 23-year-old Donna Castleberry in the chest after she attacked him with a knife, WBNS reported.
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