Ex-police officer jailed in sex case

Posted: March 25, 2009

A former Bristol Borough police officer who intimidated a woman into sex acts while on duty last summer has been sentenced to at least three months in prison.

Samuel Anderson, 33, received a three- to 23-month county prison term Monday after pleading guilty in Bucks County Court to official oppression.

The sentence imposed by Judge Jeffrey L. Finley was at the high end of state guidelines for the misdemeanor conviction. Finley indicated that he would have imposed an even harsher sentence if not for letters and testimony about Anderson's positive work in the community, according to Richard Fink, Anderson's defense attorney.

About 3 a.m. Aug. 29, a divorced mother of two had called police for help, saying a drunken former boyfriend had come to her home and was throwing her belongings from her car onto the lawn.

Anderson arrived alone and defused the situation. But then he started making inappropriate comments and coerced the woman into engaging in a sex act with him, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Robin Twombly.

The woman "continuously tried to talk him out of this," Twombly said in court, but Anderson persisted. "She was scared; she was scared that he would be angry. He had a gun" and the woman felt too intimidated to refuse.

The woman, 34, said in court that the incident had changed her from a happy, outgoing person to a fearful, guarded victim who has had trouble sleeping or returning to work.

"I reached out for help," she said tearfully, and Anderson "made me do things that I did not want to do."

After a lengthy investigation, authorities declined to bring sexual-assault charges, saying the evidence did not support them.

Don Seraydarian, a psychologist who has examined Anderson, said the former officer initially seemed "almost oblivious" to why the woman felt afraid to refuse his advances. Seraydarian said that Anderson's childhood, which included learning disabilities and extreme physical abuse by an alcoholic father, had left him emotionally remote.

"His actions were opportunistic," Seraydarian testified. Anderson now understands that "as a police officer, he had a power that he otherwise would not have had."

Contact staff writer Larry King at 215-345-0446 or lking@phillynews.com.

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