Signed plea papers have been filed with the Court in which William E. Keating, 62, admits that on November 14, 2008, while he was the elected Sheriff of Montague County, Texas, he willfully deprived another person, L.M., of her civil rights while under color of law, when he sexually assaulted her. ...That kind of abuse of power is scary because it's so likely to remain concealed, since a meth-cooking rape victim is unlikely to ever come forward.
According to the factual resume filed in the case, at approximately 9:00 a.m. on Friday, November 14, 2008, Sheriff Keating, dressed in civilian clothes with his sheriff’s badge and gun in plain view on his belt, and other Montague County Sheriff’s Office employees, executed an arrest warrant at a residence occupied by the victim, L.M., and her boyfriend. As they entered the residence, L.M. and her boyfriend were asleep in a bedroom of the house. Sheriff deputies arrested the boyfriend on the outstanding warrant and removed him from the bedroom. Deputies searched the residence and discovered a bag that contained utensils and other articles used to manufacture methamphetamine. Deputies also located a plastic container that appeared to have trace amounts of methamphetamine on it.
After deputies removed the arrested man from the bedroom, Sheriff Keating ordered the other deputy to leave the bedroom so that L.M. could get dressed. Sheriff Keating then closed the door and, once alone with L.M., told her, “You are about to be my new best friend.” He told her that he found illegal drugs in the residence that belonged to her and that for her to avoid going to jail, she would be required to “assist” him. Keating admitted that the assistance he referred to included oral sex with him on multiple occasions and an agreement to act as an informant for the Montague County Sheriff’s Office. Keating told L.M. that if she complied with his request, that he would help her get a job, a place to live and that she wouldn’t be criminally charged with possessing any drugs or drug-making equipment that was found in the home. Keating also told her that if she didn’t comply, she would go straight to jail.
After Sheriff Keating and L.M. left the bedroom, he told her to get into his personal vehicle that was parked outside of the residence. He then drove to a secluded area in Montague County and instructed her to perform oral sex on him, and in the process, grabbed the back of her neck and pushed her head down into his lap, causing her pain and bodily injury.
Two questions arise from this news: 1) Should sexual assault only be charged as a "civil rights violation" when it's perpetrated by a peace officer?, and 2) Given that he wasn't actually charged with rape (at least yet), was it appropriate to let the Sheriff out on bail given the nature of his offense? I doubt a judge would grant him bond if the charge had been "aggravated sexual assault." As things stand, I'm not even sure if this plea agreement would get him on the sex offender registry.
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