January 27, 2017
A highly-decorated law enforcement officer in Northern California is facing the prospect of life in prison after allegations were raised that he sexually assaulted a child 20 years ago.
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office is investigating charges against Barney Joseph Ramnauth, who was arrested in December on seven felony charges. These charges include suspicion of sodomizing a child younger than 10 years, according to a report in The Santa Cruz Sentinel. The charges all stem from an incident that is alleged to have taken place in August 1998. If convicted of each crime, it would mean life imprisonment for Ramnauth.
Ramnauth was named Monterey County Peace Officers Association Officer of the Year in 2014, cited for his work in the Presidio of Monterey Police Department, which is an active U.S. military base. The installation has its own police force which coordinates with the Army and other military branches at the base.
Tragically, this is not the first issue of sexual assault the Presidio Department has faced in recent years. A wrongful termination and sexual harassment lawsuit was settled early last year with a former Presidio of Monterey police trainee. According to The Monterey Herald, Luydmila Starkey was awarded $820,000 after she alleged that she was fired in 2013 for accusing her superior officer of sexual misconduct. The 2014 lawsuit claimed that the supervisor sent Starkey sexually explicit texts and emailed nude photos of himself. The trainee also alleged that Sgt. Wayne Lord would attempt to touch her in a sexual manner, commented on her physical appearance, and told her he wanted to have sex with her. Lord was investigated before in 2004 on sexual harassment charges and was suspended.
Sexual misconduct in the ranks of law enforcement is not uncommon. The National Center for Women and Policing stated that “Two studies have found that at least 40 percent of police officer families experience domestic violence, in contrast to 10 percent of families in the general population.” Likewise, a report from The Atlantic in 2014 shows that police officers are two to four times more likely to engage in domestic violence than civilians.
“And while all partner abuse is unacceptable, it is especially problematic when domestic abusers are literally the people that battered and abused women are supposed to call for help,” wrote Conor Friedersdorf for The Atlantic.
“If there’s any job that domestic abuse should disqualify a person from holding, isn’t it the one job that gives you a lethal weapon, trains you to stalk people without their noticing, and relies on your judgment and discretion to protect the abused against domestic abusers?” Friedersdorf remarked.
The Atlantic author is 100% right: a person of authority or one who is acting under the protection of the government should be the last person you might think was a criminal. Regardless of the perpetrator, sexual assault and emotional abuse can cause severe and lasting injuries. At the Cifarelli Law Firm, we make it our mission to hold the perpetrators of sexual abuse accountable for their actions. The compensation we have been able to obtain for our victims will never replace what was lost, but it will help in recovering towards a better life.
Call us today to arrange for a free consultation to discuss your situation with a professional and compassionate Cifarelli Law attorney at (949) 502-8600.