Years Of Good Service

It can be heart-breaking to see a man cry and prostrate himself before the court:

Sniffling back tears, William Ruscoe told Superior Court Judge Robert Devlin Friday he was sorry for his actions.

“Please show them (his children) the justice system their daddy worked to uphold for nearly 20 years is also fair and compassionate,” Ruscoe urged the judge.

Ruscoe was a cop.  Not just a cop, but the advisor to the Trumball Connecticut Police Department’s police explorer program, where high school students interested in becoming cops could be taken under wing and trained in the ways of blue.  One of those students was a teen-aged girl.

The affidavit states that in the fall of 2013 after she and Ruscoe had worked as security at the Battle of the Bands event at Trumbull High School Ruscoe had driven her to his Trumbull home. When she balked at having sex with him, the affidavit states Ruscoe plunked his service weapon down on the kitchen counter in front of her and then ordered her upstairs to his bedroom, grabbing his handcuffs on the way up the stairs.

Once in the bedroom he pulled off the teen’s cadet uniform and, over her many protests, sexually assaulted her, the affidavit states.

Whether this was sexual assault or rape isn’t clear, in our sexually euphemistic world, but it appears to be the latter based on the teenager’s statement at sentence.

During the emotion-packed hearing the victim urged the judge to impose the plea bargained 5-year prison term on Ruscoe.

“I was completely betrayed by someone I looked up to as a role model,” the girl told the judge. “I still wake up in a pool of sweat after having a nightmare where I yell stop and no, the two words I yelled that night at him.”

A five-year sentence for an easily provable rape at the end of his service weapon?  Certainly, Ruscoe must have some deeply moving mitigating factors to justify such a slap on the wrist.

The 45-year-old Ruscoe, who resigned from the police department following his arrest and later pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual assault, blamed his crime on financial problems that made it hard to support his wife and two children and a lack of support from the state’s criminal justice system- he claimed a man who threatened him with a gun was released on probation.

So this is the basic rape a teen because you have money problems and a bad guy scared you defense?  Well, clearly the wise judge wouldn’t fall for such an obvious ploy.  After all, what message would this send to the victim?

“I know you have really been traumatized by this situation,” the judge told the victim and her family. “But I ask you when you walk out of this courtroom, leave it here. There is a path forward for you and you have what you need to go forward.”

And as for Ruscoe, facing a mere slap on the wrist of five years?

But Devlin, while acknowledging that children need to be protected said he was giving Ruscoe credit for his years of good service with the police department.

Judge Robert Devlin then imposed sentence: 30 months.

Much has been argued about the significance and seriousness of rape.  Indeed, the arguments are usually made in the context of an offense that was facially consensual, between parties of the same age and power, and without the use of a gun.  Here, a cop raped his charge, a teenaged girl, with a gun at the ready.  Here, a cop engaged in a forcible rape with pretty much every aggravating factor possible.  But here, the rapist was a cop.

We all do good and bad in our lives, but should the fact that Ruscoe was a cop serve to mitigate, or aggravate, the sentence for his crime?  A good place to start is with the plea bargain for a max sentence of five years in a case that couldn’t be lost by the prosecution.  Not that five years is chump change, but it’s hardly life plus cancer either.

Yet, even the five years was too much, when Ruscoe’s “years of good service” with the police are taken into account.  That it was his very “years of good service” that put him in the position that he could rape an “explorer” didn’t seem to register. Nor did the fact that his gun and cuffs conveniently found their way into the crime.

And his explanation for the trauma of his life that pushed him to “disgrace himself” is laughably insignificant compared to the lives of poverty and abuse so many defendants endured on their way to committing a crime.  He couldn’t support his family on his cop’s salary in the style he wanted? Horrors, when others had no food on their table. Great reason to rape.

The question of whether prosecutors are capable of prosecuting cops for the needless violence, the occasional death they cause is a good one. Cries for a special prosecutor who isn’t so closely aligned with the police offer a possible answer.

Yet, a neglected role in this discussion comes on the back end of the system, the judges who similarly feel a degree of empathy toward police that they can’t seem to muster otherwise. After all, a cop’s years of good service matter enormously, while others’ years of good service are dismissed out of hand.  A cop’s claim of financial hardship or fragile angst at the system strikes home, while others’ life of abuse at the hands of pretty much everyone, especially cops, falls on deaf ears.

But the most galling aspect of Ruscoe’s disingenuous cry was this:

“Please show them (his children) the justice system their daddy worked to uphold for nearly 20 years is also fair and compassionate,” Ruscoe urged the judge.

No doubt Ruscoe showed only fairness and compassion in the performance of his duty as a Trumball cop, just as he showed it to the teenager he raped.  This should have bought him an additional 30 months.  Yet it didn’t.

H/T Mike Paar

8 thoughts on “Years Of Good Service

  1. JLS

    I have noticed a reluctance in the maintream press to cover police atrocities unless there is a easy racial angle or some un-ignorable footage. With all the recent press coverage of rape issues you’d think this story would make CNN, or ABC evening news or be all over the place like Ferguson or the Eric Garner story but without the racial angle I think the media just generally refuse to cover bad cop stories. Local news in particular sounds like one long police report written by the police.

    And so the bodies just keep piling up and nothing ever changes.

  2. Jamie R

    But what about split-second decisions? What about getting home for dinner with his wife? It’s real easy for some blogger to sit behind a desk and criticize a cop for raping someone, but you don’t know what it’s like to make decisions like this. When someone breaks into your house, would you rather call a cop, a criminal, or (in Ruscoe’s case) both?

  3. Jim Majkowski

    “We all do good and bad in our lives, but should the fact that Ruscoe was a cop serve to mitigate, or aggravate, the sentence for his crime[?]”

    Per one oft-cited authority:

    But what about the servant who does not know what his master wants? He also does things that deserve punishment. But he will get less punishment than the servant who knew what he should do. Whoever has been given much will be responsible for much. Much more will be expected from the one who has been given more.”

    Luke 12:48

    1. SHG Post author

      While I certainly agree with the sentiment, I fail to understand what a Star Wars character has to do with this.

  4. Nigel Declan

    “But I ask you when you walk out of this courtroom, leave it here. There is a path forward for you and you have what you need to go forward.”

    That a judge would have the temerity, right after giving a cop the sweetheart deal of the century, to suggest that the victim should stop being traumatized and get on with her life defies belief.

  5. morgan sheridan

    Yes, former officer Ruscoe’s family got to experience judicial mercy. His victim? Not so much.

    1. SHG Post author

      You’ve missed the “compassion” point completely. It’s not his victim in this instance, but the “perps” of the “justice system their daddy worked to uphold for nearly 20 years.”

  6. John Barleycorn

    Here is a photo of William the Wonderful Cock with some of his students just prior to a white dove landing in his hand.

    And here is a photo of Robert the Kind Plea Judge you would want, just after releasing the white dove.×471.jpg

    P.S. Hey, William the Wonderful Cock did apologize. “I stand here today humble, heartbroken. I’m sorry I turned your life upside down, I should have known better” and the band played on this time with white doves. Simple really…

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