Yet more Columbus, Ohio, vice police officers have actually been arrested on federal criminal charges. The U.S. Lawyer’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio announced Tuesday that previous Columbus Department of Authorities (CPD) Officers Steven G. Rosser and Whitney R. Lancaster have been charged with conspiring to breach others’ civil rights and conspiring to commit wire scams.
“The indictment declares that these 2 former law enforcement officers mistreated their badges and deprived individuals of their Constitutional rights,” said U.S. Attorney David M. DeVillers.
Rosser and Lancaster—who made their very first appearance in court today—were both longtime members of the force (19 years and 31 years, respectively) who invested their last numerous years on the task as part of the city’s vice unit. And both officers were involved in an unfortunate, extracurricular stakeout of Columbus strip club Sirens when Stormy Daniels danced there in July 2018.
Rosser, Lancaster, and a few colleagues arrested Daniels and two Sirens workers that night on invalid charges. The cases versus all 3 were rapidly dismissed. A whistleblower within CPD outed the officers as having lied about being at Sirens that night as part of a prostitution and human trafficking examination and the city had to pay a total of $500,000 to settle claims from Daniels and the other 2 women. Rosser and Lancaster were two of six Columbus polices named in the Daniels claim.
That incident is not part of the new federal indictment. However the duo’s existing troubles likewise stem, in part, from strip club shenanigans and claims of wrongful arrest.
According to the feds, Rosser got in a battle with a customer at Nick’s Cabaret in 2015 and “allegedly represented that he was acting in the course and scope of his work as a authorities officer during the fight and in the days that followed,” when he had the guy “seized and searched without probable cause.”
“Based, in part, on a report that Rosser wrote regarding the fight, officers detained that individual in April 2015, and he was apprehended at the Franklin County jail for approximately 5 days before the charges against him were ultimately dismissed,” according to the U.S. lawyer’s office.
In another event, this one in April 2018, Rosser, Lancaster, and some of their colleagues allegedly stopped and searched the owner of the Dollhouse strip club without possible cause.
These two claims form the basis for the conspiracy to breach civil rights charge. The other charge comes from claims that Rosser and Lancaster were “routinely reporting incorrect and fraudulent unique duty hours,” as the federal charges put it. The former officers apparently billed work hours to both the Columbus Department of Authorities and to a unique fire-related task on 29 different days in early 2018.
The charges versus Rosser and Lancaster come about a year after previous Columbus vice police Andrew Mitchell was arraigned on federal criminal charges.
Mitchell—who fatally shot Donna Dalton while she was caught in his unmarked authorities car in 2018—was accused of depriving multiple females of their civil rights by kidnapping them and threatening them with arrest if they wouldn’t have sex with him. The case versus Mitchell is still continuous, with a jury trial date currently set for September 21, 2020.
Mitchell is likewise being taken legal action against in federal civil court by a Jane Doe who alleges that Mitchell abducted and raped her while she was handcuffed in the back of his car. Doe’s complaint, filed in January, likewise suggests that “the damage went to upon [Doe] by Offender Mitchell resulted from the failure of the City… to act to relieve Offender Mitchell of his gun and badge” in spite of the fact that “red flags about [Mitchell] and other officers in the Vice Unit had been raised.” This failure stemmed from the city’s “policy or culture” of tolerating bad habits from vice cops, the match claims.
In another federal civil lawsuit, Rosser and Lancaster are being sued by the business behind now-defunct Columbus strip club Kahoots.
“In or around 2017, Defendant Rosser and Defendant Lancaster invested various
hours at Kahoots while in their official capacity,” states the Kahoots complaint, submitted in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in January. It accuses Rosser and Lancaster of filing “criminal charges, without likely cause, versus a number of [Kahoots] workers and/or independent specialists,” after Kahoots wouldn’t rehire a fired bouncer that Rosser presumably desired the club to rehire.
The grievance also keeps in mind that Rosser filed criminal charges versus Kahoots’ parent company Icon Entertainment, claiming that it illegally permitted sexually oriented activity. Those charges were later on dismissed. “Criminally charging Icon Entertainment was for other ulterior intentions that violated its Constitutional rights,” the claim claims.