It was not a good Valentine’s Day for Maleatra Montanez. In 2015, she called 911 in need of help. The officer who arrived at her home, Chester Thompson, promptly forced her to have sex with him. For nearly two years now, she has tried to obtain justice through the legal system. It seems, finally, she may be on the cusp of receiving it.
Thompson, then a member of the Syracuse Police Department (and presently an employee of Blue Camel Water and Pools), now faces accusations from multiple alleged victims. Still more women have come forward with accounts of abuse at his hands, even though they are not formally pressing charges. As the evidence against Thompson accumulates, the more likely it becomes that Montanez succeeds in the $7 million civil suit she has filed against him and the SPD.
Earlier Decisions Let Him Off Lightly
Thompson has faced legal action before, but gotten off lightly. In late 2015, he was given just three years’ probation after pleading guilty in a criminal case stemming from Montanez’s allegations, as well as complaints brought by another alleged victim.
As detailed in the New York Daily News, a Syracuse assistant district attorney claimed it was impossible to secure more severe punishment because the women never explicitly refused his sexual advances, and so he couldn’t be charged with rape. Rather, faced charges only of official misconduct – a misdemeanor.
Yet attorney Ed Sivin, who is representing Montanez in her civil suit, avers that the district attorney’s office could easily have brought rape charges against the officer. “Forcible compulsion,” he pointed out, is, under the law, “a threat, express or implied,” and he asserts that Thompson’s actions meet this standard.
A New Opportunity For Justice
Indeed, the Daily News article makes clear the threatening nature of Thompson’s actions. The women who encountered him report that he used his uniform as a means of coercion.
“He’s a cop,” one said. “[The authorities are] not going to believe me.”
“I remember him making a comment about him being an officer and me being drunk and underage,” said another, “then he forcibly bent me over…and raped me…he said it was okay afterwards and that I wouldn’t be in trouble.”
Taken together, the women’s accounts create a seemingly formidable case. Against them Thompson’s defense may seem paltry. While he admits having had sexual relations with Montanez and others, he maintains, according to the newspapers, that “it was consensual.”