Attorney: Woman's claims of Leesburg police officer sexually assaulting her are false



LEESBURG, Fla. - Two investigations have now been launched following claims from a woman who said she was sexually assaulted by an arresting Leesburg police officer before she was taken to jail.

According to a release, the officer has been placed on non-disciplinary administrative leave pending the outcome of the Leesburg Police Department's Internal Affairs investigation. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has also joined the investigation.

WFTV's Kenneth Craig spoke with the officer's attorney, Robert Whittel who said the allegations aren't true.

"There is absolutely no credibility to these allegations," said Whittel. "These are false charges. It's a fabrication. It didn't occur that way."

The 23-year-old alleged victim spoke with Craig and said she was too afraid to be identified after she claimed the uniformed officer sexually assaulted her.

The accuser said it was midnight and she was in a dark alley when the assault unfolded behind a Leesburg strip mall.

The woman said she was handcuffed in the back of a cruiser and was on her way to jail after being arrested for driving on a suspended license because she hadn't paid some tickets when she said the officer made a sudden turn.

"He parked the car, turned the lights off, pulled in the back alley," the woman said.

The accuser claims the officer asked her what she would do if he took off her handcuffs. She said he removed them and then forced her to touch him and perform oral sex.

"He ended up uncuffing my right hand, placed it on his genitals and he said that I knew what he wanted," said the alleged victim.

The woman said she was terrified of what would happen if she didn't.

"I was shocked, ashamed," the woman said. "I didn't feel I could benefit fighting with him. I felt safer going along with him."

When the alleged incident was over, the woman said the officer took her to jail. When she got out of jail, she said she reported the incident to Leesburg police.

Records show it took more than two hours from the time the woman arrested to when she was booked into jail, and the accuser claims the officer drove 85 mph to the jail to make up for lost time.

Internal investigators are combing through the officer's records, including instant messages, his patrol car GPS and dispatch communications.

"The allegations are of a criminal nature and are taken very seriously by the administration of the Leesburg Police Department. Our primary focus in this investigation is to seek the truth," officials said.

The accuser said she can't help but wonder how many other possible victims are out there.

"I think he's a pig, and I think he should be fired, so he can't do this to any other women," she said. "He shouldn't be a police officer."

A longtime friend of the officer spoke with WFTV in his defense.

"He's got a wife and kids. When it's proven I'll believe it," said the officer's friend, Tony Senteneri.

WFTV is not naming the officer because he has not been charged in the case. However, WFTV obtained his employee file which shows he's a husband and father who's only been on the force for six months.