Former Chattanooga police officer Desmond Logan pleads guilty to raping three women in his custody, using Taser on fourth

Former Chattanooga police officer Desmond Logan pleads guilty to raping three women in his custody, using Taser on fourth

September 5th, 2019 by Mark Pace in Breaking News

This story was updated at 5:11 p.m. on Sept. 5 with more information and comments.

Former Chattanooga police officer Desmond Logan reached a plea agreement on Wednesday in federal court, admitting to raping three women in his custody and using a Taser on another woman he had driven to an isolated parking lot at UTC in 2016.

"Desmond Logan is not what the men and women of the Chattanooga Police Department represent," police Chief David Roddy said. "He is an absolute disgrace of a police officer and a human being. His abominable actions tarnish the badge we all proudly wear and diminishes trust so many officers work hard to build every day."

Logan, 33, faces 10 years in prison on each of two deprivation of rights counts: one for a 2018 rape and one for the incident at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Each count also comes with $250,000 in fines and a maximum term of supervised release of up to three years. It is unclear at this time whether the terms will be served consecutively. The two additional rapes — one in 2015 and one in 2016 — are listed under "relevant conduct" in the plea agreement. Those women are not part of an ongoing lawsuit against the city of Chattanooga because they lost touch with the attorney representing the UTC victim and 2018 victim.

 

However, Logan admitted to those rapes, as well, which would serve as evidence in a case if the former officer backs out of the agreement.

"The defendant is pleading guilty because the defendant is in fact guilty," prosecutors wrote in the agreement, which was signed by Logan and his Chattanooga attorney, Samuel Byrd. Byrd did not return a request for comment.

Logan, who is not in custody, will have to appear at a plea hearing to finalize the deal. Typically, that is when defendants are placed into custody. The hearing had not been scheduled as of midday Thursday. Part of the agreement is protected under seal. The Nashville attorneys representing the victims declined comment on the agreement until it is finalized at the plea hearing.

The case stems from the 2018 rape of a woman in Logan's custody. On or around June 12, 2018, Logan told her she was under arrest, drove her to an empty parking lot and raped her in the early morning hours.

The Times Free Press does not identify victims of rape.

The victim reported the incident to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, which began a criminal investigation. The Chattanooga Police Department also began its own internal affairs investigation at that time.

In July, the FBI got involved.

Agents began contacting other women who claimed their allegations had been suppressed by police department leaders for years.

The criminal investigation by the sheriff's office was eventually placed on hold until the FBI reached its conclusion, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the investigation.

The FBI never publicly acknowledged its investigation and deflected a list of questions about the plea agreement to the U.S. Attorney's Office, which declined to comment. However, the federal case was openly acknowledged by police department, city and county leaders, as well as attorneys involved. It has now also brought two federal charges.

The police department's internal affairs department concluded its investigation in January, but Logan — who was hired in 2014 — resigned in the minutes leading up to the hearing in which he was expected to be fired.

The Times Free Press learned early in the investigation that the 2018 victim was not the only woman to accuse Logan of rape while he was on duty — a direct contradiction to a statement by Roddy in June 2018.

The four women mentioned in the plea agreement, a former neighbor of Logan's who claimed he raped her, and a woman claiming to be his mistress all outlined allegations of wrongdoing against the former officer directly to the Times Free Press or, in the case of the UTC victim, through her attorney.

Investigators would later learn two former high-ranking officers may have played a role in covering up years of allegations. The decorated officers — retired Assistant Chief Edwin McPherson and retired Capt. Pedro Bacon — allegedly purged complaints from a police software system. Bacon has previously denied the claims to the Times Free Press. He was ordered to appear before a grand jury in the case. McPherson hung up when contacted in May. He has remained in a lead role as a sergeant at the UTC police department throughout the investigation. A university spokesperson declined to comment. 

Logan "chose his victims wisely," according to several sources with direct knowledge of the investigations. He would prey on women with a history of arrests, prostitution or drug use who were less likely to be believed, they said, trying to explain why the department did not act on previous complaints.

Public records that could confirm the information have been blocked for more than a year by City Attorney Phil Noblett, citing the "ongoing investigation" by the county. Roddy has maintained he did not learn about allegations until June 2018. Other anonymous sources within the department have disputed that fact but did not provide proof of the claims.

A sheriff's office spokesman also declined to provide comment due to the status of the investigation.

"Originally, [the sheriff's office] was tasked by the Hamilton County District Attorney's Office to investigate this matter. However, as the investigation progressed, the matter was collaboratively investigated with the FBI," according to an email from sheriff's office spokesman Matt Lea. "This is an ongoing investigation therefore at this time, no further information is available. Any further questions should be directed to the United States Department of Justice."

District Attorney Neal Pinkston also declined to comment.

Sheriff Jim Hammond would later provide comment after a meeting with elected officials.

"If he's guilty, then he needs to be punished," he said.

Contact Mark Pace with questions, comments, concerns or story tips at mpace@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659. Follow him on Twitter @themarkpace and on Facebook at ChattanoogaOutdoorsTFP.


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