BRPD officer accused of groping woman during traffic stop now faces kidnapping charge
BATON ROUGE - A police officer allegedly lured a college student to a secluded location during a traffic stop and suggested he would arrest her if she did not endure his sexual advances.
Officer Donald Steele was booked Wednesday on charges of second-degree kidnapping, malfeasance and misdemeanor sexual battery, just a day after a warrant was filed for his arrest.
The WBRZ Investigative Unit was first to report on the accusations against Steele, stemming from a traffic stop near LSU on June 23. The new documents obtained Tuesday said Steele was not supposed to be patrolling that area and that he activated his lights in such a way that would not switch on his dashboard camera.
The victim's attorney claims Steele pulled her over along Burbank Drive around 2 a.m., telling her that he could arrest her on suspicion of DWI but would not do so "because she's pretty."
"We are absolutely relieved," her attorney Ron Haley said Tuesday. "It is difficult for any woman to report an allegation of sexual assault or abuse. She was extremely brave for what she did and following through with it."
Documents obtained Monday said Steele then began showing the victim photos from his Instagram account and asked to see her phone. Steele allegedly went through her pictures and sent at least one of the victim's photos to his own phone.
At some point during the stop, a pair of LSU police officers pulled up behind the victim's vehicle. However, they left after Steele went to their car and spoke with them. Investigators later interviewed those LSUPD officers, who said Steele told them he was "out with his sister and everything was OK."
"I think you have to do a review to make sure this was not done before," Haley said. "Everything was too deliberate. You deliberately not activate your body cam and deliberately not use your bar lights to pull my client over so the entire incident would not be recorded. It shows he was deliberate in his actions every step of the way."
Records go on to say Steele then told her to follow him to the airport and threatened to "put her in handcuffs" if she didn't obey him, but he instead led her to an abandoned warehouse near the Hollywood Casino where he continued to harass the woman.
"In fear of being arrested, she gets in her car and does what the officer says," Ron Haley, the woman's attorney, previously told WBRZ.
The warrant alleges Steele took her phone when he noticed her trying to record the encounter, and began asking her sexually explicit questions. The victim claimed Steele then felt her breasts and forcibly kissed her.
The woman also told investigators that Steele asked if she wanted to get in the backseat with him, but she declined and said she had to be at work.
After that exchange, the victim said she tried to start her car to leave, but her battery was dead. Steele helped jumpstart her car, but he began texting her phone immediately after she left, according to the warrant. The victim said she ignored those messages, several of which where sexually explicit.
GPS data later corroborated that Steele was at those locations during those times.
"I appreciate the job BRPD did," Haley said. "They are going to take a hit for one of their own doing something wrong, but at least they investigated one of their own, and you don't see that very often where a law enforcement agency will investigate one of their own and results will come from it. Look at State Police."
Jail records show that Steele was booked Wednesday morning and bonded out just hours later.
“We believe that Officer Steele is innocent of the alleged crimes and that anything that happened between he and the accuser was consensual. We will confront these allegations in a court of law," Attorney Franz Borghardt said.
A temporary restraining order against Steele was previously granted by a judge and then extended through Oct. 13, the date of his next court hearing. Steele is currently on administrative leave from the Baton Rouge Police Department pending an investigation into the allegations.
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