Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sheriff Deputy Gerald Nuckolls Arrested for Sexual Assault and Battery

An Oklahoma sheriff's deputy resigned Wednesday after two women said he sexually assaulted them at a Tulsa County home while he was on duty, a case that comes on the heels of a state trooper and an Oklahoma City police officer being arrested on sexual assault complaints.

Tulsa County Deputy Gerald Nuckolls, 26, was arrested late Tuesday on complaints of sexual assault and battery and indecent exposure. He remained jailed on $125,000 bond Wednesday. It's not clear from jail records whether Nuckolls has an attorney.

Undersheriff Tim Albin said Nuckolls resigned after being placed on unpaid leave. Nuckolls hasn't been formally charged, and authorities believe there could be at least five more women who have yet to come forward.

"It's been a real punch in the gut for us," Albin said at a news conference. "There's a real sense of betrayal for us on this."

Nuckolls' arrest came a day after Oklahoma State Trooper Eric Roberts was arrested on complaints of kidnapping, rape and other crimes. Roberts is accused of sexually assaulting three women while on duty.

Roberts' arrest came just weeks after Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw was accused of sexually assaulting at least eight women while on duty. Holtzclaw has pleaded not guilty to 16 felony counts, including rape and sexual battery.

The recent allegations against the three lawmen are among similar complaints lodged against Oklahoma officers in the past decade.

In 2011, Delaware County commissioners agreed to a $13.5 million settlement after 15 women complained they were raped, sexually assaulted or fondled by their jailers. In 2009, Custer County Sheriff Mike Burgess was sentenced to 79 years for sexual assaults against an inmate and the county agreed to pay about $10 million to settle claims by more than a dozen women.

Former Latimer County Sheriff Melvin Holly was sentenced to 25 years for sexual crimes, including abusing a 19-year-old inmate in 2004 and warning her she would "end up dead somewhere, floating face-down in a river" if she ever reported what happened to the authorities. A settlement with at least 16 women totaled around $670,000.

Nuckolls, who had worked for the sheriff's office for two years, showed up at the women's home investigating a 911 hang-up call about halfway through his shift, according to his arrest and booking report.

The report alleges that Nuckolls pulled one of women inside his patrol SUV and eventually exposed his genitals to her. The woman said she began rubbing the officer's genitals because he told her that it would keep her boyfriend out of jail.

Nuckolls then got out of the SUV and asked a second woman at the house asked if she had drugs inside, according to the report. The woman gave Nuckolls permission to search her residence and he found nothing. She told detectives that Nuckolls urinated near her garage and then went inside the garage with her, making small talk.

Nuckolls asked the woman about her tattoos and if she was wearing a bra, and then reached up and pulled her dress down, according to the report.

The woman said she pulled her dress up as Nuckolls began to touch his genitals. She said she told him she wanted to leave and go back inside and that Nuckolls said he would return when his shift ended at 8 a.m.

The report says Nuckolls told detectives who interviewed him that "he has a problem for pretty women" and that "sexual type activity has occurred" during encounters with about six women on traffic stops or calls.

Missy Iski, director of programs and counseling at DVIS/Call Rape in Tulsa, said Wednesday that potential victims may be reluctant to come forward especially when a law officer is alleged to have been involved.

"When you add a law enforcement person, it even adds to the difficulty," Iski said.