Federal and state officials in Ohio have arrested a Columbus vice detective, 55-year-old Andrew Mitchell, on charges that he allegedly kidnapped victims under the guise of arrest and then forced them to engage in sex in exchange for their freedom.
Ben Glassman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, says Mitchell abused his authority as an officer of the law.
“When you have a police officer who not only commits a crime but does so under color of law, under his authority as a police officer, that is an extraordinarily serious offense,” Glassman said. “That is a nightmare, is a breach of trust and that is a federal crime.”
Mitchell has been employed by the Columbus Division of Police since 1988 and was assigned to the Vice Unit in March 2017. Part of his duty was conducting law enforcement actions for solicitation offenses.
“The community has every right to be disgusted by the news as well as anyone who wears the badge,” said Interim Chief of Police Thomas Quinlan. “This officer will be held responsible but I ask for the community’s continued support for the 1,900 officers who work hard every day to honor our profession.”
The March 7 indictment was unsealed at Mitchell’s initial appearance in court Monday afternoon, and alleges Mitchell, “while acting under the color of the law, deprived victims of their civil rights, namely, the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.”
The indictment describes three separate incidents involving two different women. In one instance, Mitchell is accused of taking a female victim under the guise of arrest in July 2017, transporting her to a separate location, and exchanged oral sex for her freedom.
The indictment says Mitchell, in September 2017, took a second female victim to a different location and exchanged vaginal sex for her freedom.
A third charge alleges Mitchell took the second victim again in the summer of 2018 and transported her to another location and exchanged anal sex for her freedom.
Additional charges include obstruction of justice, tampering with witnesses and lying to the FBI.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said the charges should send a message regarding the importance of such cases.
“Police officers are heroes, not predators,” Yost said. “So when one goes bad, it’s more important than ever to do justice because it pulls down respect for all law enforcement.”
If convicted, Mitchell could face up to life in prison.
If you think you are a potential victim related to this case or have any relevant information, you are asked to contact the FBI at (614) 849-1777.