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A young Tennessee cop already facing a barrage of disturbing allegations — including forcing a woman he arrested to be baptized and probing a black man’s anus on the side of the road — was just indicted on 44 criminal counts.
Hamilton County Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Wilkey, 26, was arrested Tuesday on charges including rape, sexual battery, false imprisonment, extortion, stalking, assault, oppression, and reckless driving, according to court documents.
Wilkey has been on paid administrative leave since July, when dash-camera footage revealed he and his partner had beaten a black man on the side of the road before conducting an invasive body cavity search. That incident, which sparked widespread community outrage, was referred to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for further review, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. The resulting findings were referred to the local office of the Hamilton County District Attorney General, which brought Tuesday’s indictment.
The indictment doesn’t fully describe the circumstances surrounding each alleged crime, but the allegations, in part, mirror those featured in at least four lawsuits brought this year against Wilkey for alleged misconduct. Some of the charges mentioned in the indictment — reckless driving and stalking, for example — were not previously mentioned in lawsuits.
The lawsuits were brought by Robin Flores, a local civil rights attorney and former police officer who has agreed to represent several of Wilkey’s alleged victims, some of whom are minors alleging they faced invasive body searches from Wilkey. It’s not clear what happens to those civil lawsuits now that Wilkey is facing criminal charges.
“I want to reassure our community, each and every day the men and women of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office are to perform their duties in a deliberate, honorable, and professional manner. We are charged to protect this community and its citizens and this is a responsibility I take very seriously,” Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond said in a statement Tuesday night. “My staff and I will continue to follow the steps laid out by Civil Service and cooperate with the District Attorney’s Office throughout the course of this investigation.”
The Hamilton County attorney, meanwhile, did not immediately return a VICE News request for comment on the allegations against a county employee, nor did Wilkey’s personal attorney.
Here are some of the allegations Wilkey is facing:
Wilkey was indicted on charges of extortion and false imprisonment relating to the February arrest of Shandle Riley. She’s currently suing Hamilton County, Wilkey, and his partner, deputy Jacob Goforth, alleging that her civil rights were violated. Riley is mentioned by name in Tuesday’s indictment.
Riley was on her way to visit her child and had just pulled into the driveway when Wilkey initiated a traffic stop, according to the lawsuit filed in October. Wilkey told Riley he pulled her over because he believed she had methamphetamine, ordered her out of the car, and allegedly began conducting an invasive body search. He also asked her to take off her bra and shake her bra and shirt out.
When he asked her whether she had anything illegal in her car, she mentioned she had a “roach” in her pack of cigarettes but that she didn’t have any other drugs.
It’s at that point that Wilkey allegedly called her a “piece of shit,” according to the lawsuit, and asked her whether she had been “saved” by Jesus Christ. Wilkey allegedly told Riley that he felt “the spirit” compelling him to baptize her, and asked that she go retrieve some towels. If she would agree to be baptized, he would let her off with a criminal citation for the marijuana, according to the lawsuit.
Wilkey allegedly asked that Riley get in her car and follow him to a nearby lake, which Riley felt she couldn’t refuse. Then Wilkey allegedly stripped down to his underwear and led Riley into the water so he could baptize her.
“Plaintiff was shivering uncontrollably, and felt horribly violated,” according to the lawsuit. The other deputy, Goforth, was present but did not participate in the baptism, nor intervene.
Roadside body cavity search
Wilkey was charged Tuesday with rape and obstruction for a July 10 incident that’s not described in detail in the indictment. However, the date of that incident and unlawful arrest matches the date in a lawsuit filed by Flores over the alleged roadside beating and body cavity search of the black man, James Mitchell.
Wilkey allegedly pulled over Mitchell for over-tinted windows, and because he smelled of marijuana, according to the lawsuit against Wilkey, Hamilton County, and Deputy Bobby Brewer. Wilkey ordered Mitchell and his girlfriend out of the vehicle. Wilkey allegedly handcuffed Mitchell and began searching him, at which point Mitchell told Wilkey he had an untreated and large hernia and the search was causing him pain.
Wilkey and Brewer then beat Mitchell with “fists, knees, and feet,” according to the lawsuit. Then they removed Mitchell’s pants, bent him over the hood of his car, and “conducted an anal cavity search” without consent on the side of the road. The female passenger, Mitchell’s girlfriend, of the car was forced to watch, according to the lawsuit, and feared she’d be dealt the same punishment, or that Mitchell would be killed. Instead, he was transported to jail on multiple charges — including resisting arrest — made bail, and went to the hospital for tears in his anus, contusions, and the aggravated hernia, which later required surgery. The charges against him were dismissed.
Read the full indictment below:
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