Congress just closed a loophole that allowed federal officers to claim sex with people in their custody was consensual.
In 2018, a bombshell report from BuzzFeed News found that when law enforcement officers were accused of sexual assault of people in their custody, they were able to avoid charges by claiming the interaction was consensual. A new law, passed last week by Congress, will eliminate the so-called “consent loophole” by making it a crime for any federal law enforcement officer to engage in a sexual act with anyone under their custody.
The Closing the Law Enforcement Consent Loophole Act, passed as part of a broader appropriations bill, will apply to more than 100,000 federal agents. It does not fix the problem at the state level, though it does encourage states to follow suit by requiring states that receive certain federal grants to report any complaints from people who allege an officer sexually assaults or abuses them while in custody.
Despite the new law preventing abuse from federal officers, at least 29 states still have no rule on the books that prevents police from claiming sex with a detainee was consensual. The loophole has resulted in at least 26 officers being acquitted or getting charges dropped between 2006 and 2018, according to a BuzzFeed News report. It’s shocking that such a loophole could exist in the first place, let alone need to be closed, but here we are.