Florida police officers arrested after having sex with woman during traffic stopBy Mason White 7:06 AM August 12, 2013
|Thomas Merenda (left) and Franklin Hartley|
By: Debbie Gross
(Scroll down for video) Two police officers were arrested and charged with sex crimes related charges after they made sexual contacts with two women during a traffic stop, according to police reports in Florida.
Prosecutors said they charged two Lauderhill police officers with crimes after they detained a female drunk driver. One officer demanded that the female driver punch him in the genitals, according to the Broward State Attorney’s Office.
Because he liked it, prosecutors said the officer is being charged with unlawful compensation, defined as obtaining a benefit for performing or refused to perform public duty.
A second officer in the case is accused of having sex with a passenger in the same car, all the while threatening to arrest her too if she did not comply.
Police officers Franklin Hartley and Thomas Merenda were arrested on Thursday night. Both are charged with unlawful compensation, a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison, and battery, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail.
Merenda’s attorney, Eric Schwartzreich, said the charges against his client was disconcerting.
“The only thing that’s crazy here is the charges against my client,” Schwartzreich said.
According to prosecutors, Hartley, 32, stopped the women in their car after they left a club. He threatened to arrest the driver and ordered her to follow him to the parking lot of a nearby shopping center. That’s where Merenda, 35, joined them.
According to the arrest reports, Hartley ordered the passenger to perform oral sex on him, and then had sex with her. Officer Merenda asked the drunk driver to punch him in the genitals.
Hartley asked for and received the phone number of the passenger, and he sent a picture via text message shortly after the meeting in the parking lot, according to the arrest report.
The women are 29 and 31-years-old.
“These allegations are extravagant, outrageous and absurd. Illegal compensation is defined as obtaining a benefit or advantage. As a member of the male gender, I can tell you that being hit on the testicles is not a benefit or advantage. Any man can attest to that. It is not that kind of thing,” the attorney said.
Both Merenda and Hartley are on paid administrative leave from the Lauderhill Police Department. Before the incident, Hartley had served five years as a police officer, and Merenda had served 11 years.
Lauderhill Police Chief Andrew Smalling issued a statement expressing his disapproval of the alleged actions of his officers.
“I, and the men and women of the Lauderhill Police Department, are really disappointed with the nature of the charges against these two officers and if found to be true, the consequences must be serious,” Smalling said. “The alleged actions of these two agents do not in any way reflect the character and integrity of the many men and women who work at the Lauderhill Police Department,” he added.