A former Trooper with the Ohio State Highway Patrol pleaded guilty today in Columbus, Ohio, to four counts of violating the civil rights of female motorists and one count of engaging in cyber stalking.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, United States Attorney Carter M. Stewart of the Southern District of Ohio, Special Agent in Charge Kevin R. Cornelius of the FBI, Cincinnati Division, Superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSP) Colonel Paul A. Pride and Licking County Prosecutor Kenneth W. Oswalt made the announcement.
"There can be no greater breach of trust or abuse of authority than a police officer exploiting the power of his badge to sexually abuse the very citizens he has sworn to protect,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “Today’s guilty plea should serve as a reminder that nobody is above the law, especially those who have taken an oath to uphold it.”
“I thank the State Patrol for bringing this matter to our attention and the State Patrol and FBI for conducting an exhaustive investigation,” said U.S. Attorney Stewart. “I extend my sympathies to the victims of this unfortunate case. No one should ever have to fear illegal conduct from those very persons sworn to protect them and uphold the law.
According to court documents, Bryan D. Lee, 30, of Lancaster, Ohio, served as an OSP Trooper from approximately January 2006 until October 2013. In his plea agreement, Lee admitted that he violated the civil rights of four female victims by coercing them to engage in sexual acts, some of which he photographed, in exchange for his agreement not to file criminal charges or issue traffic infractions against the victims or their friends. Some of those acts were performed while the victims were under arrest and restrained in handcuffs. Lee also harassed and threatened some of the victims, including sending threatening electronic messages to one individual who Lee pulled over twice during a one-month period.
The investigation into Lee began when a routine review by OSP of the dash camera recordings in Lee’s cruiser revealed inappropriate conduct with a female driver and passenger whom Lee had stopped for a traffic violation. OSP uncovered multiple instances of administrative and criminal misconduct by Lee and contacted the FBI to assist in their investigation. Lee resigned his position at the outset of the investigation.
Lee’s sentencing hearing will be scheduled by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson of the Southern District of Ohio.
This case was investigated by the Columbus office of the FBI’s Cincinnati Field Division and OSP. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Michael Marous of the Southern District of Ohio and Trial Attorney Edward P. Sullivan of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. Also assisting in the investigation was Licking County Special Prosecutor Martin Frantz.