A 30-year veteran of the Columbus Police Department was arrested by federal authorities on Monday for allegedly “kidnapping” several women “under the guise of making an arrest” and forcing them to have sex with him in exchange for their freedom, according to the Department of Justice.
Andrew Mitchell, 55, was indicted last week on three counts of depriving individuals of their civil rights under color of law, two counts of witness tampering, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of making a false statement to a federal agent. Those indictments were unsealed on Monday.
“We rely on the police to serve and protect us, and when you have a police officer who commits a crime, that is a very serious breach of trust,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman said at a Monday afternoon press conference.
Authorities allege that at least three different women were victimized by Mitchell, who “traded” sexual encounters for the women’s freedom. He allegedly coerced the women into oral, vaginal, and anal sex, respectively.
“When FBI agents spoke to Mr. Mitchell, he lied to them,” said Glassman. “Specifically, when they asked if he had sex with prostitutes, he lied to them.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Todd Wickerham called the allegations “shocking” and “revolting” and noted that the Columbus Division of Police brought the case to the federal agency in the fall.
“Police officers are heroes, not predators,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said Monday. “When one goes bad, it’s more important than ever to do justice.”
WBNS-TV reports that Mitchell arrested nearly 200 women over the past two years while he served as a detective in the Vice unit. At least one of those women told the news station that she was charged after she refused to have sex with him. It is unclear if that woman was part of the federal investigation into Mitchell’s conduct.
“The community has every right to be disgusted by the news, as well as anyone who wears this badge,” Thomas Quinlan, interim chief of the Columbus Division of Police, said at the press conference.
In an unrelated case that will head to a grand jury within the next month, Mitchell has been under investigation for fatally shooting 23-year-old Donna Castleberry while arresting her on prostitution charges on August 23.
Mitchell shot Castleberry three times after she allegedly drew a knife when “an altercation occurred” in the back of Mitchell’s unmarked car.
Mark Collins, Mitchell’s attorney, told The Daily Beast on Monday that Mitchell plans to plead not guilty to all of the charges.
“We look forward to vigorously and zealously representing him at the trial,” Collins said.
Mitchell, who faces a possible life sentence, will remain in federal custody until a detention hearing on Wednesday.