Former Chattanooga police officer Desmond Logan was arrested Thursday afternoon after his plea hearing in federal court.
The hearing finalized an agreement in which the 33-year-old admitted to raping three women and driving a fourth to an empty parking lot at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where he held her against her will with a Tazer.
"Civil Rights violations, particularly when they involve a member of law enforcement, are of tremendous concern," Special Agent in Charge Joe Carrico of the FBI's Knoxville Field Office said in an emailed statement. "The entire law enforcement profession is tarnished when an officer betrays the oath to protect and serve. The FBI will vigorously investigate any officer or agent of the law who is breaking the rules that he or she is sworn to uphold or is violating the civil rights of others."
The 35-minute hearing was led by Magistrate Judge Christopher H. Steger, who will recommend the district judge in the case, Harry S. "Sandy" Mattice Jr., accept the deal.
The plea deal involves two federal deprivation of rights charges related to a 2018 rape and the UTC incidence. Each charge comes with a maximum of 10 years in prison, $250,000 in fines and supervised release up to three years. He will have a sentencing hearing Feb. 10, 2020, at 2 p.m.
"The Department of Justice is committed to prosecuting officers who violate their oath by sexually assaulting and unlawfully seizing persons while on duty," according to a statement from Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division. "We will continue to send the strong message that the federal government will not tolerate such egregious abuses of power."
The plea hearing largely involved Steger informing Logan he was entering a deal, pleading guilty to two federal charges, giving up his right to a trial and doing so willfully. The court also read details about the 2018 rape and 2016 incident at UTC.
Logan stood in the middle of the courtroom in a black dress shirt and dark grey slacks. He listened to the judge's questions and answered each with a "yes, your honor" or "no, your honor" before ultimately agreeing he was guilty. Logan's attorney, Samuel Byrd, declined to comment.
Logan's wife sat teary-eyed in the back of the courtroom along with five members of his family and friends.
The hearing ended at 2:35 p.m. with Logan turning over his watch and belt to Byrd before being placed in handcuffs and led out of the back of the courtroom.
Charges for the rapes themselves will have to come from the state, if it chooses to proceed in the case. Rape isn't typically a federal crime. It's a criminal offense within the state it occurs. The FBI investigated the case because Logan raped the women while they were in his custody as a police officer; therefore, he deprived them of their federal rights.
The state charges could be more severe. Logan's plea deal came with the admission of his actions. The state can use that admission against Logan.
The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office conducted the criminal investigation. Its findings have been handed off to the U.S. Department of Justice.
"If there are any state charges added, that will come through the [Hamilton County District Attorney's] Office," sheriff's office spokesman Matt Lea wrote in an email.
District Attorney Neal Pinkston has declined comment on the case, referring all questions to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Logan's admission follows reports by the Times Free Press for more than a year that outlined that multiple women had claimed he had raped them in secluded parking lots. Chattanooga police Chief David Roddy initially claimed the 2018 victim was the first person to have made allegations against the officer. Roddy has maintained he was not aware of the allegations until June 2018.
Two former police leaders, Pedro Bacon and Edwin McPherson, are being investigated for potentially covering up the evidence. Bacon denied the claims. McPherson declined to comment.
Updated on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019 at 4:33 p.m. with more information.