CRIME

Police Officer Gets 3 Years in Sex Assault

By Jenna Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 24, 2007

A former D.C. police officer was sentenced yesterday to three years in prison for sexually assaulting a woman he stopped for a traffic offense.

Prosecutors said Juan Leon attacked the victim after pulling her over early on Oct. 30, 2005, in Northwest Washington. Leon, 30, pleaded guilty in June to a charge of second-degree sexual assault of a ward. He expressed remorse at his sentencing yesterday in D.C. Superior Court, making a plea for probation.

But Judge Neal E. Kravitz gave Leon an even longer sentence than the prosecution sought, and more time than is recommended in the District's sentencing guidelines. Prosecutors urged Kravitz to issue a 15-month sentence; the guidelines called for a term of six to 24 months.

"The criminal conduct . . . is so egregious, such an outrageous betrayal of trust put in him," Kravitz said.

Prosecutors said Leon stopped the woman at 3:45 a.m. in the 900 block of Kennedy Street NW, supposedly because he could not clearly see the expiration date on her rear license plate. The victim, a mother in her 30s who speaks only Spanish, was driving a friend's car home from a club and did not have her driver's license.

Leon told the woman to follow him to Rock Creek Park, claiming they needed to talk. They wound up in an isolated parking lot, prosecutors said, where he got into the woman's car, exposed himself and forced her to perform various sex acts.

"She thought she was going to be killed," said Assistant U.S. Attorney John C. Einstman.

The woman returned home and told her niece what happened. The victim later notified police.

During the sentencing hearing, she sat in the back of the courtroom with a few family members, often keeping her focus on her carefully painted light-blue fingernails instead of the action at the bench. At the last minute, she agreed to speak.

In five sentences relayed to the court by an interpreter, she said that she never expected this would happen to her and that the assault immensely affected her and her family. "My life will never be the same," she said. "I have no trust in police."

The woman's niece also spoke and directed her remarks at Leon: "You victimized my aunt, my family, myself. It's a disgrace that you are a part of the criminal justice system."

Defense attorney Marc L. Resnick noted that Leon took responsibility for his actions. The assault wasn't as aggressive as prosecutors alleged, Resnick said, adding that Leon let the woman go when she began crying.


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