On Tuesday, local law enforcement in Fairfax County, Virginia announced that John Grimes, a former Fairfax County cop, had been indicted for alleged sexual misconduct with a minor who participated in the department’s safety cadet program. The allegations first came to light when Grimes, who was applying for a job as a special agent with the FBI, failed a lie-detector test, the Washington Post reported.
“Crimes of a sexual nature against minors are some of the most heinous crimes,” Steve Descano, the commonwealth’s attorney for Fairfax County, said at a press conference Tuesday. “We recognize in the criminal justice system that no one is above the law. And my job, as commonwealth’s attorney, is to hold people accountable. And that includes whether or not someone wears a badge.”
The alleged sexual misconduct took place in late 2019, shortly before the allegations first surfaced. At the time, the victim was 16-years-old. The association between Grimes and the victim began when Grimes took her on ride-alongs, Kevin Davis, the chief of police for Fairfax County Police Department, said at the press conference.
After the department learned of the allegations, Grimes was stripped of his police duties. He resigned months later. The Fairfax County Police Department has also suspended ride-alongs in the public safety cadet program, which involves teenagers who are interested in becoming cops. Ride-alongs have long been suspected of putting young people in danger of abuse from cops.
“How ironic that this program is intended to do one thing, and in fact she’s victimized,” Davis said.
If convicted on the three counts of custodial indecent liberties, Grimes faces up to 15 years in prison, as well as the prospect of registering as a sex offender.
Sexual violence by police is quite common in the United States. A 2014 study, led by Bowling Green State University professor Phil Stinson, analyzed the arrests of almost 400 officers for sex-related crimes; researchers found that almost three-quarters of all cases involved victims under the age of 18. The arrests took place between 2005 and 2007, and involved officers from 43 states and Washington, D.C.
“These findings seem to indicate scenarios in which adults allowed police both access and the opportunity to victimize children under their care,” the study reads. “That is, caregivers may be prone to ‘let their guard down’ in the presence of police in a manner that evokes the infamous scandals involving Catholic priests and the wide-scale sexual abuse of minors.”
Grimes’ attorney didn’t immediately respond to a VICE News request for comment.