Cleshaun Cox, a former Portsmouth police officer, is facing at least 15 years and up to 20 years in prison after he admitted to kidnapping and raping a 17-year-old girl while he was on duty and in uniform.
According to 13 News Now, the Department of Justice on July 14 announced Cox had entered a guilty plea to a new federal charge of “violating the civil rights of a minor victim by forcibly sexually assaulting her.”
Cox, 31, was initially sentenced to 15 years in prison in August 2021 after he pleaded guilty to state charges of carnal knowledge and abduction, the DOJ said, adding that the court later suspended 10 years of that conviction. The new federal charge was brought against the convicted ex-police officer because he committed the crime while he was on duty and in uniform.
Court documents stated that Cox admitted he met the 17-year-old victim on or about May 27, 2019, while he was on duty as a Portsmouth Police Department officer and in uniform. The victim was said to be driving home when Cox followed her in his marked police vehicle. After getting home, Cox told the victim to drive to a parking lot before telling her to enter his marked police vehicle, court documents stated. Cox then drove the 17-year-old to an isolated location and raped her.
In the wake of the incident, authorities said Cox admitted he was aware of the victim’s age and also knew she did not want to have sex. Cox also admitted to not being truthful to state investigators about what he did that day. He had initially claimed he had no knowledge of the victim’s age and also falsely said it was the 17-year-old who rather “proposed a sexual act to him.”
“Police officers are entrusted to safeguard and protect our community, especially vulnerable children,” said Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Police officers are not above the law. Those who abuse their position to commit such abhorrent acts must and will be held accountable.”
Cox is set to be sentenced on November 28. Besides the prison sentence, Cox also faces up to five years of supervised release and must also register as a sex offender.
“Our sworn police officers have a duty to uphold the constitution and are entrusted with protecting the safety and quality of life of the communities they serve,” said Brian Dugan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Norfolk Field Office.
“Cleshaun Cox broke that trust when he, while acting under color of law, physically assaulted a teenage girl and violated her rights to bodily integrity. Cox’s conduct is not reflective of the honor and professionalism with which Portsmouth Police officers perform their duties, and I am grateful for the department’s collaboration in this investigation.”