A police officer in Clearwater, Florida, was recently arrested after he allegedly stopped a pedestrian for jaywalking and then told her he wouldn’t cite her if she performed sexual acts, according to the Clearwater Police Department.
Clearwater Police Officer Nicolas Paloma, who has been with the department since 2018, has been charged with sexual battery and false imprisonment.
The incident began early Sunday morning at the Clearwater Beach roundabout, Clearwater Police Chief Eric Gandy said in a news conference. That’s where Paloma reportedly approached the 32-year-old victim, who was from out of town.
Gandy said the officer told the victim to get into his police cruiser, and she obeyed by getting into the passenger seat. Paloma then told the victim she could "take care of her charges by doing things for him."
Paloma rode around in his patrol car with the victim for approximately 30 minutes, engaging in sexual acts at various locations, Gandy said. He made efforts to prevent the department from being able to track his vehicle.
Afterward, Paloma dropped the victim off up the street from her hotel.
Officers learned about the accusations after they were called to a dispute involving the victim and her friend. During the argument, she divulged what had happened with the officer and police began to investigate her claims.
"It erodes the confidence in our profession, and on a personal level, I know how hard we struggle to maintain trust. So for me, having to come here today is infuriating because I have to have this conversation with you, but it's an important conversation to have and these are important facts to relay to you." Gandy said in the press conference.
While Paloma has no previous disciplinary record with the department, Gandy said the department wants to be sure there aren’t any other victims.
He said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will be assisting the Clearwater department in the event that more issues come to light during the course of the investigation.
“It’s intolerable in this profession and certainly in the Clearwater Police Department,” Gandy said.
This story was originally published by Leilyn Torres at Scripps News Tampa.
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