Trooper Newton Higginbotham was found by his own department to have followed a woman home while on duty, forced her to take off her clothes, sexually assaulted her, yet he was never charged. Trooper Newton Higginbotham was also found by his own department to have sexually assaulted a woman seeking help from domestic violence by her husband and, again, he was never charged. West Virginia State Police — in their own investigation — found these allegations to be wholly true and Higginbotham broke the law, yet somehow, this sexual predator has never received so much as a slap on the wrist. Higginbotham himself, admitted he used his authority as a trooper to take advantage of these two vulnerable women, yet he faced zero accountability. Why is that?
The answer to that question lies in the fact that the justice system in the ostensible land of the free is horribly broken — unless you are a part of it, then it works flawlessly in your favor. Instead of Higginbotham ever being held accountable for his crimes, the taxpayers of West Virginia paid up instead, which seems to be the way things go.
Higginbotham's first victim received $150,000 from taxpayers earlier this year after proving her case. The second victim still has litigation pending.
The first victim had gotten off of work from her late night shift at a gas station when Higginbotham decided to strike. Likely knowing the woman was on probation, this predator trooper followed her home and pulled her over to carry out his sick desires.
“I’m going back to my car, and when I come back, I want all your clothes off,” the West Virginia State Police trooper said, according to a lawsuit filed against him in federal court. As the Charleston Gazzette-Mail reports:
It was nearly midnight on a back road in Petersburg. The woman was on probation on charges tied to drug use and didn’t want to risk going back to jail. So she took her clothes off. Higginbotham sexually assaulted her, putting his fingers in her vagina, according to internal police records and a lawsuit. The assault lasted about two minutes until a car drove past, ending the encounter.
“Don’t tell anyone this happened,” the woman said Higginbotham told her. After the assault she would report the incident to police. As the department investigated her claims, another victim would come forward.
The next case is even more egregious as Higginbotham used his authority to allegedly prey on a victim of domestic violence. In 2017, Higginbotham was on a call to meet a victim of domestic violence and photograph her injuries.
After taking her statement, Higginbotham left to go to his car. According to the complaint, he told the victim that when he when he came back, if she was still in the living room, he would know she didn’t want to do anything sexually. But if she was in the bedroom, he would know she “wanted him,” according to her interview with the State Police, the Gazette reports.
The woman immediately objected his proposition, calling it "disgusting." That's when, according to the lawsuit, Higginbotham brought his authority in to help him.
“Well, I’m in your home alone and I don’t know if you have weapons on you and I’m going to need to search you,” the trooper said, according to her.
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During the search, Higginbotham joked, laughed and said “you know you like it,” by her account.
Higginbotham proceeded to allegedly sexually assault the victim during the search causing her to physically resist with violence.
“Stop, stop, you’re not searching me you motherf-----,” she said to him, according to the State Police.
She got away from her attacker and called a friend for help. This woman had called police for help only to have the officer show up and try to rape her. Haunting, indeed.
According to the subsequent investigation, Higginbotham acknowledged that he searched her for sexual purposes but denied assaulting her or imposing any kind of ultimatum, the report said.
As the Gazzette points out, "in its internal administrative investigation, the State Police was clear — it believed the women. The department found that Higginbotham broke the law."
“It has been determined that reviewing the content of each interview conducted as a result of this Inquiry would lead a prudent person to believe the allegations made by both females,” 1st Lt. Kevin Smouse wrote in the report.
The FBI then came in to investigate and ruled that a sexual encounter indeed happened. However, they claim the encounter was consensual. This is a farce from the start as one cannot consent when being detained by armed agents of the state.
When armed individuals chain a person's hands and kidnap them or merely detain them with police lights on in the cruiser, there is no reasonable manner in which that person could consent to sexual contact. Even if there was no struggle and the detained person goes along with police demands, when you are under duress and being held against your will, there is no consenting.
Despite being found to have broken the law and found to have had sexual contact with his victims, Higginbotham quietly resigned without consequence. The FBI never interviewed the victims and the case was closed. According to the Gazette, the bureau declined to answer questions and denied a FOIA request for its report.
And this is justice in the 21st century.