GREENVILLE, Ala. (AP) - A former Alabama state trooper charged with rape is fighting a request to submit a saliva sample to authorities, who say in court documents that he told a woman he’d throw her in jail if she didn’t have sex with him.
Prosecutors have said in court documents that they need a saliva sample to ensure a full investigation in the case of Samuel McHenry, who was arrested and fired in early December. McHenry, who is charged with rape and sodomy, is free on bond. On Wednesday a judge in Alabama’s Butler County rescheduled until March 3 a preliminary hearing to determine whether probable cause exists to send the case to a grand jury for possible indictment.
The woman has told authorities that McHenry drove her from the scene of a car accident late last Dec. 6 and threatened to send her to jail if she didn’t comply with demands for sex, according to a warrant filed in court. The warrant adds that the officer made the demands after he found pill bottles and an empty nasal spray bottle in her car at the accident scene.
According to the warrant, the woman was put in a caged area of McHenry’s patrol vehicle and he then drove to an exit on Interstate 65 in south Alabama. The warrant states McHenry opened the back door where the woman was sitting and said “F___ me or go to jail” before pulling her pants down and having sex with her. The woman also was told to perform oral sex, according to the warrant.
McHenry drove the woman to a closed store afterward, let her out and drove off, according to the warrant. Investigators said in the warrant that the alleged assault began around 10 p.m. on Dec. 6 and ended around 1:45 a.m. last Dec. 7.
Alabama Secretary of Law Enforcement Spencer Collier has said McHenry was fired based on the results of a preliminary investigation.
“Although everyone is entitled to due process, the severity of the allegations are unsettling,” he said in a statement shortly after McHenry’s arrest.
McHenry had worked as a state trooper since 2009, according to an Alabama Law Enforcement Agency spokesman, Sgt. Steve Jarrett.
Court documents filed Wednesday said the victim was examined Dec. 7 at a hospital and a rape kit was obtained. Prosecutors said they want McHenry to provide a saliva sample, and samples taken from his patrol vehicle tested positive for the presence of semen.
McHenry’s attorneys have sought to block prosecutors from obtaining a saliva sample until they’ve had time to consult with or retain an expert to ensure any samples are taken properly. They also requested oral arguments on the motion.
State prosecutors said in a motion that any samples would be taken by a law enforcement officer who is trained in evidence collection and preservation. The samples would help state forensic experts conduct a complete investigation and don’t violate McHenry’s rights, prosecutors said.
Butler County District Court Judge J. MacDonald Russell said Wednesday he will discuss the motions at the hearing in March. He rescheduled the preliminary hearing after McHenry’s attorneys said they wanted the victim in court but prosecutors had excused the woman beforehand. Another subpoena was issued for the woman Wednesday.
Phone calls and emails to McHenry’s attorney haven’t been returned.
In a yearlong probe of sexual misconduct by U.S. law enforcement, the Associated Press uncovered about 1,000 officers who lost their badges in a six-year period for rape, sodomy and other sexual assault; sex crimes that included possession of child pornography; or sexual misconduct such as propositioning citizens or having consensual but prohibited on-duty intercourse.
The figure is an undercount because it includes only officers whose licenses have been revoked and not all states take such action, maintain accurate records or have a statewide system to decertify officers for misconduct.
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