Denver, CO (KMGH) — A former Westminster police officer was sentenced last month to 90 days in jail and four years of probation after he was accused of raping a vulnerable woman while on duty.
The former officer’s punishment, many see as too light, is now making national headlines and causing outrage online.
Curtis Lee Arganbright, 41, pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual contact and official misconduct stemming from an incident in August 2017. Both of which are misdemeanors.
Arganbright was originally facing felony charges of sex assault by force, sex assault by a person of in a position of authority and false imprisonment before reaching the plea deal with prosecutors.
The senior patrol officer was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in handcuffs outside his patrol car.
Court records show the 36-year-old victim had checked herself into St. Anthony Hospital for alcoholism and police were called after she was accused of stealing items from the emergency room. The hospital agreed not to press charges if officer Arganbright took her home.
It was on that journey the woman claims Arganbright forced her to have sex after pulling over on a side street.
“No matter which way you turn these facts, the way the officer acted was disgusting,” said criminal defense attorney Dan Recht.
However, Recht said Arganbright only pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors, not felony sexual assault.
“If you’re convicted of sexual assault. You go to prison for the rest of your life,” he explained. “If you plead guilty to unlawful sexual contact that’s a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence that is very short.”
Recht also said he believes the fact the prosecution accepted the plea agreement shows they had concerns about proving their case at trial.
“They have a victim that was intoxicated. An officer saying that she was sexually aggressive and he foolishly and unlawfully reacted and was sexual, but that it was consensual,” said Recht. “At the end of the day. It’s clearly he said, she said. Except that he’s a police officer and it’s an abuse of power.”
While Arganbright will only serve 90 days in county jail, he also must register as a sex offender and get sex offender treatment, and his life will never be the same.
“He has to register as a sex offender, which keeps him from getting a whole lot of jobs. Which he probably should be kept from getting a lot of jobs,” said Recht.
The victim wasn’t physically able to attend the sentencing hearing, but the district attorney’s office said her mother told the judge her daughter was brutally raped and suffers from extreme PTSD because of what Arganbright did.
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