Providence officer gets 40-year term for rape

Woman assaulted in a substation

By Eric Tucker
Associated Press / September 9, 2010

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PROVIDENCE — A suspended Providence police officer who raped a woman inside an empty police substation, then responded to her family’s 911 call, was sentenced yesterday to 40 years in prison by a judge who called his actions “something out of a horror movie.’’

Marcus Huffman, 40, was convicted of first-degree sexual assault for the March 2007 rape of a woman he picked up outside a Providence nightclub while on duty. Prosecutors say that the woman was drunk at the time and physically helpless and that Huffman offered her a ride home but drove her to a substation, raped her, and left her on the bathroom floor.

The woman walked to her aunt’s house, and after her family called 911 to report the attack, Huffman was among the officers who responded. Prosecutors say he never mentioned he had encountered her earlier.

“That is something out of a horror movie,’’ contended Superior Court Judge Netti Vogel, who said Huffman had tarnished the Police Department and described him as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.’’

Huffman, who joined the force in 1994 and has been suspended without pay, tearfully apologized in court to the woman, his family, and to the Police Department for what he described as a lapse in judgment.

But he and his lawyer have maintained that no rape occurred and that the woman instead invited him into the substation bathroom and engaged in a consensual sex act with him.

The woman testified at trial that she is a lesbian, is not physically attracted to men, and never consented to sex with Huffman.

The Associated Press generally does not identify victims of sex crimes.

Huffman met the woman outside a Providence nightclub three years ago after she was turned away for being too drunk. Tests revealed she had a blood-alcohol level three times above the legal limit for driving. Huffman was on duty and in a marked cruiser when he invited the woman into the car and told her he would take her home.

“The defendant used his authority as a police officer to lure his victim, a physically helpless woman, into a police cruiser with the pretense of taking her home,’’ Vogel said.

“He never intended to take her home. The substation was the perfect place to commit the perfect crime.’’

Huffman’s lawyer, Robert Caron, said the sentence was excessive and he would appeal.

Police Chief Dean Esserman called the sentence appropriate.

“He does not represent what the Providence Police Department and our officers stand for,’’ Esserman said in a statement.

Besides his prison term, Huffman also faces a 20-year suspended sentence and 20 years of probation. He was ordered to undergo sex offender counseling and to register as a sex offender after he’s released from prison.

Prosecutor Maureen Keough said the woman was too traumatized to appear in court to address Huffman. She said the rape had left the woman, who was 19 at the time, afraid of police.

“What he’s done in injecting this level of mistrust and fear of police officers is devastating,’’ Keough said.

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