Oklahoma trooper jailed on sex assault complaints

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Highway Patrol arrested a state trooper Monday on complaints of kidnapping, rape and other crimes after three women alleged the officer sexually assaulted them while he was on duty.

Trooper Eric Roberts, 42, was arrested at his home in Sapulpa and taken to the Creek County jail. He was released Monday afternoon after posting $66,000 bail.

An internal investigation into Roberts began after a woman called the patrol on July 23 and reported that Roberts raped her after pulling over her vehicle, said Col. Rick Adams, chief of the Highway Patrol.

"This is obviously not a pleasant discussion for us to have, but we think it's very important ... that the public has confidence in us knowing that we police our own," Adams said. "This particular matter sickens us as an agency."

Roberts has been suspended since July 24, when he was forced to turn over his gun and badge, and the patrol has started proceedings to fire him, Adams said.

Roberts' attorney, Gary James, said his client is innocent.

"With regard to the allegations that led to his arrest today, I will tell you they are untrue," James said. "He committed no crimes."

Roberts' arrest comes just weeks after an Oklahoma City police officer was accused of sexually assaulting at least eight women while on duty. In that case, Daniel Holtzclaw has pleaded not guilty to 16 felony counts, including rape and sexual battery.

In Roberts' case, after interviewing the first victim, Adams said troopers seized Roberts' patrol vehicle and other evidence from the location where the woman said Roberts raped her and submitted it for DNA testing.

In a federal lawsuit filed by the alleged victim, the woman claims Roberts made her get into his patrol car and began asking her sexually explicit questions. She claims Roberts then drove her to a secluded location and raped her.

After the lawsuit was filed, a second woman came forward and made similar allegations, claiming Roberts pulled her over, drove her to a remote area and sexually assaulted her, according to an amended complaint filed in federal court.

Adams said the patrol's investigation led to a third victim. Adams said in all three cases, Roberts turned off the patrol vehicle's dashboard camera and a microphone worn on his uniform.

An attorney for the two women said in a statement they hope more women who may have been victimized will come forward.

"We are glad to see that he was finally arrested," said attorney Kevin Adams. "Our clients wept when they were told the news. It took a lot of courage for both of these women to stand up to a law enforcement officer."

The Associated Press generally does not name victims of sexual assault.

Formal charges had not been filed against Roberts by late Monday afternoon. The Creek County district attorney was in court Monday and could not immediately respond to requests for comment.

An attorney who represents Roberts in his official capacity as a state trooper, Assistant Attorney General Devan Pederson, filed a motion last week to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that claims against Roberts in his official capacity are barred by sovereign immunity. The motion does not address the merits of the women's claims.


Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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