Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery
(Criminal Appeal from Common Pleas Court) Trial Court Case
MATHIAS H. HECK, JR., BY ANDREW T. FRENCH, ATTY. REG. NO.
0069384, ASSISTANT PROSECUTING ATTORNEY, MONTGOMERY COUNTY
PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE, APPELLATE DIVISION, MONTGOMERY
COUNTY COURTS ATTORNEY FOR PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
SWIFT, ATTY. REG. NO. 0065745, ATTORNEY FOR
1} Defendant-appellant Justin Sanderson appeals his
conviction and sentence for the following offenses: three
counts of rape, in violation of R.C. 2907.02(A)(2), all
felonies of the first degree; seven counts of sexual battery,
in violation of R.C. 2907.03(A)(6), all felonies of the third
degree; two counts of gross sexual imposition (GSI) in
violation of R.C. 2907.05(A)(1), both felonies of the fourth
degree; two counts of kidnapping, in violation of R.C.
2905.01(A)(4), both felonies of the first degree; one count
of aggravated burglary, in violation of R.C. 2911.11(A)(2), a
felony of the first degree; and four counts of interfering
with civil rights, in violation of R.C. 2921.45(A), all
misdemeanors of the first degree. Each count of kidnapping
was accompanied by a sexual motivation specification pursuant
to R.C. 2941.147. Sanderson filed a timely notice of appeal
with this Court on October 2, 2018.
2} The record establishes that in the late spring of
2015, Sanderson began working as a security officer at a
company called G4S. Mark Wysong testified that he was the
owner of G4S and that he hired Sanderson. Wysong testified
that he was also the Chief of the Phillipsburg Police
Department (hereinafter "PPD"). In November 2015,
Wysong hired Sanderson as a part-time police officer at the
PPD. The offenses for which Sanderson was arrested and later
convicted occurred during a six-week period in 2017 while he
was employed as a police officer in Phillipsburg.
of May 19-20, 2017
3} The record establishes that late on the night of
May 19, 2017, K.W., 22 years old, was driving back to her
residence in Greenville, Ohio, after a night spent with
friends in the Oregon District in downtown Dayton, Ohio.
Sometime after midnight on May 20, 2017, Sanderson initiated
a traffic stop of K.W. as she traveled on State Route 49.
K.W. testified that she was very anxious upon being pulled
over as she had been drinking alcohol and did not have a
driver's license. After K.W. informed Sanderson that she
did not have a driver's license, he removed her from the
vehicle, handcuffed her with her hands behind her back, and
placed her in the rear of his cruiser.
4} Sanderson drove K.W. to the Phillipsburg
Municipal Building, where the police station is also located.
K.W. testified that there was no one else present at the
police station and most of the lights had been turned off
when they arrived. K.W. testified that Sanderson had her
perform a single field sobriety test, the "walk and
turn." K.W. remained handcuffed while she performed the
test. Sanderson informed K.W. that she failed the test and
asked her what he "should do about what was going
on." Tr. 444. K.W. testified that at this point she was
crying and very frightened because she thought she was going
to jail. K.W. testified that she was also confused because
Sanderson was asking her how he should handle the situation.
5} Sanderson asked K.W. if he could pat her down.
K.W. testified that Sanderson stood behind her and started to
pat her down. K.W. testified that Sanderson then pulled up
her dress, pulled down her shorts and underwear, and started
kissing her buttock. Thereafter, Sanderson directed a
still-handcuffed K.W. to sit on the edge of a desk. Once K.W.
sat down, Sanderson began performing oral sex on her. K.W.
testified that Sanderson then bent her over the desk and
inserted his penis into her vagina from behind. K.W.
testified that Sanderson removed his clothes and took off her
dress. Sanderson then carried her into another room in the
station and continued having vaginal intercourse with her on
6} The sexual assault ended a short time later, and
Sanderson and K.W. got dressed. K.W. testified that Sanderson
then transported her back to where she left her vehicle.
Sanderson also told K.W. to follow him back to her residence
in Greenville so that she would not get pulled over by any
other police officers patrolling the area. While she was
driving from Phillipsburg to her home in Greenville, K.W.
called her mother, T.M., on her cellphone. K.W. informed T.M.
that she had been pulled over in Phillipsburg on the way to
the residence they shared and had been raped by a police
officer. K.W. also informed T.M. that the officer who had
raped her was following her home. T.M. testified that during
their conversation, K.W. sounded very upset and was crying.
7} When they arrived at K.W.'s residence,
Sanderson stopped his cruiser at the end of her driveway and
asked her for her phone number. K.W. testified that she felt
compelled to give Sanderson her phone number because she was
in shock from being assaulted and because she was scared that
Sanderson might attempt to arrest her for driving while
intoxicated and driving without a driver's license. After
K.W. got home, T.M. looked out the window and observed a
police cruiser parked at the end of the driveway.
of June 2-3, 2017
8} On the evening of June 2, 2017, T.B. attended a
pool party at a friend's residence in Huber Heights,
Ohio. T.B. left the party at approximately 11:30 p.m. T.B.
testified that she observed a Phillipsburg police cruiser
parked on the side of State Route 49 shortly after midnight
near her residence. T.B. testified that she arrived at her
residence and had been inside approximately ten minutes when
she heard a knock on her front door. When she answered the
door, she observed Sanderson, whom she recognized as a
Phillipsburg police officer. Sanderson asked T.B. for her
name. T.B. testified that Sanderson then asked her if she was
aware that her husband had an outstanding warrant for his
arrest. T.B. informed Sanderson that she was aware of the
warrant for her husband for unpaid fines levied by Vandalia
Municipal Court, but that he was currently at work.
9} T.B. testified that at this point, Sanderson
informed her that she also had an outstanding warrant for her
arrest. T.B. testified that she told Sanderson
that she was unaware of any warrant and asked him to produce
documentation confirming that a warrant existed. Sanderson
replied, "Well get to that." Tr. 554. Sanderson
then told T.B. to pull out her bra, and he proceeded to pat
her down under her shirt. T.B. testified that Sanderson also
pulled on her belt loop and asked her if she was wearing any
underwear. At this point, Sanderson placed T.B. in handcuffs
behind her back and led her out to his police cruiser. Before
leaving, T.B. asked Sanderson if she could retrieve her
cellphone, but he told her not to worry because they would be
returning to her residence at a later time. Sanderson then
placed T.B. in the back of his cruiser and drove to the
10} Upon arriving at the station, T.B. again asked
Sanderson to produce documentation regarding the alleged
warrant. Sanderson stated that he would try to locate the
warrant, and he left T.B. sitting in a room for a short time.
T.B. testified that when Sanderson came back, he removed her
handcuffs and began patting her down again. T.B. testified
that she believed it was a great deal more intrusive than was
necessary. T.B. testified that Sanderson pulled on her bra
and began touching her breasts. T.B. testified that she tried
to pull away, and Sanderson stopped and sat down in a chair
facing her. T.B. testified that at this point, she was crying
and praying out loud. Sanderson told T.B. to calm down and
stated "jails not that bad, it's not that
scary." Tr. 571. Sanderson then left the room again.
11} When Sanderson returned, he handcuffed T.B.
again. T.B. testified that she was very scared at this point
and told Sanderson "just take me to jail." Tr. 573.
Sanderson asked T.B., "What do you suggest?"
Id. T.B. testified that she asked, "Suggest for
what?" Sanderson replied, "To make this go
away." Id. Sanderson also told T.B. "you
may not realize how hot you are." Tr. 576. Sanderson
then ordered T.B. to stand up and turn around. Sanderson
stood behind her and began running his hands down her and
around to the front of her body. T.B. testified that he
grabbed her breasts, unbuttoned the top of her shorts, and
stuck his hand down her pants. T.B. testified that Sanderson
then digitally penetrated her vagina, and she pulled away,
stating "she was not that kind of girl" and to
"just take her to jail." Tr. 578.
12} At this point, Sanderson placed T.B. back in his
cruiser and drove her back to her residence. Before letting
her out of the cruiser, Sanderson told T.B. to resolve the
outstanding warrant. Sanderson also told her that he would
check on the status of the warrant the next time he was on
duty, and if had not been resolved, he would come back. T.B.
exited the cruiser and ran into her residence. Once inside,
she locked the door and called her husband to inform him of
what had happened.
13} T.B. testified that Sanderson came to her
residence the following week on Friday, June 9, 2017, at
approximately 11:30 p.m. T.B. testified that she was at home
with her daughter at the time. Sanderson informed T.B. that
he was aware that she had resolved her warrant. T.B.
testified that she told Sanderson to never return to her
residence for any reason, and that she would call the Clay
Township Police or the Montgomery County Sheriff if he did.
of June 27-28, 2017
14} K.T. and T.U. were prostitutes who advertised
their services as a duo on an internet site called
Backpage.com. T.U. created the advertisement. On June 27,
2017, a male identifying himself as "Slick Johnson"
responded to T.U.'s advertisement and sent a photograph
of himself as well. The man in the photograph was identified
by K.T. and T.U. as Sanderson. In his response to the
advertisement, Sanderson offered the two women $160 for their
services and agreed to meet them at the Knights Inn hotel in
Vandalia, Ohio, in Room 165.
15} While he was in uniform and on patrol duty that
night, Sanderson traveled in his cruiser from Phillipsburg to
the Knights Inn in Vandalia. Upon arriving at the hotel,
Sanderson went to the front desk and placed a pair of
handcuffs on the counter in front of the clerk, H.P. H.P.
testified that Sanderson asked for the key to Room 165.
Sanderson informed H.P. that he was conducting a
"prostitution investigation." H.P. testified that
he did not want to disobey an order from a uniformed police
officer, so he gave Sanderson the hotel's master key.
16} Sanderson went to Room 165 and knocked on the
door. K.T. testified that she looked through the peephole and
observed a uniformed police officer. K.T. did not open the
door. Rather, K.T. informed T.U. that there was police
officer at the door and to therefore be quiet. When the women
refused to answer the door, Sanderson used the master key to
gain entrance to the hotel room. K.T. testified that
Sanderson walked into the room and immediately looked in the
bathroom, asking the women where their pimp was. K.T.
testified that she informed Sanderson that they did not have
a pimp, but were in business for themselves. Sanderson then
asked the women for identification. K.T. testified that she
recognized Sanderson from the photograph that he sent earlier
that day. Sanderson took the women's identification,
radioed in to dispatch, and wrote some information down in
"little black book" that he kept in his pocket. Tr.
182. K.T. testified that Sanderson was in full police uniform
and was armed with a handgun and a Taser.
17} At this point, Sanderson ordered the women to
lift up their dresses so that he could search them. K.T.
testified that he made them show their bras and bare skin.
T.U. testified that Sanderson ran his finger along the inside
of the waistband of her see-through underwear. Sanderson then
asked the women if there were any drugs in the room. K.T.
testified that she responded by taking a small baggie of
marijuana out of a Swisher Sweets box located on the
nightstand and throwing it on the middle of the bed. K.T.
testified that she had been arrested for prostitution in the
past, and she thought that Sanderson was behaving strangely
for a police officer under the circumstances.
18} K.T. testified that Sanderson then placed her in
handcuffs with her hands in front of her body, and he used
foot shackles to handcuff T.U., also with her hands in front
of her body. T.U. testified that Sanderson handcuffed them
because K.T. was "talking too much and making him
nervous." Tr. 258. Sanderson eventually removed the
handcuffs from the women. K.T. testified that Sanderson told
them that he would not arrest them if they promised to take
down the advertisement on Backpage.com, and if they
"show[ed] him their boobs." Tr. 262. T. U.
testified that they complied by taking down the Backpage.com
advertisements in his presence and by both women revealing
their breasts to him.
19} Thereafter, Sanderson left the room and returned
the master key to the front desk. K.T. testified that
Sanderson returned approximately five minutes later and
knocked on the door. K.T. opened the door and allowed
Sanderson into the room. Once inside, Sanderson asked the
women if they "wanted to have fun off the record."
Tr. 265. Both K.T. and T.U. were still afraid that Sanderson
was going to arrest them, so they responded affirmatively.
K.T. also testified that she had been violently raped in the
past. Therefore, K.T. testified that she did not want to have
to fight Sanderson off or get raped at gunpoint if she
refused his advances. K.T. testified that Sanderson took off
his pants and sat down on the bed, at which point K.T. and
T.U. took turns performing fellatio on him. Sanderson then
told K.T. and T.U. to get on their hands and knees after
which he penetrated both women vaginally from behind with his
20} K.T. testified that Sanderson stopped the
assault shortly thereafter, stating that he had to get back
to work before his boss discovered his absence. Sanderson got
dressed and left the room. T.U. testified that after
Sanderson was gone, she and K.T. were both shocked but agreed
that they would investigate whether Sanderson was actually a
police officer. As previously stated, K.T. testified that she
had been arrested for prostitution multiple times in the past
and was familiar with detectives from the Dayton Police
Department's vice squad. Therefore, K.T. contacted
Detective John Howard and informed him of the events
surrounding Sanderson's sexual assault of her and T.U.
K.T. also gave Detective Howard the photograph of "Slick
Johnson" that she had been sent. Using this information,
Detective Howard was able to identify Sanderson as a suspect.
Detective Howard shared this information with the FBI and
Vandalia Police Sergeant Thomas Vallery.
21} On July 6, 2017, Vandalia Police Officer Cody
Anderson was on patrol when he observed a Phillipsburg Police
cruiser in the parking lot of the Knights Inn. Having been
briefed on the investigation into Sanderson, he immediately
contacted his superiors regarding the presence of the
Phillipsburg cruiser. Shortly thereafter, Sergeants Flynn and
Vallery arrived at the Knights Inn, where they arrested
Sanderson and took him into custody. Upon being questioned
regarding his presence at the hotel in another jurisdiction,
Sanderson stated that he was conducting a human trafficking
investigation. Significantly, Phillipsburg Police Chief
Wysong testified that Sanderson had never been cleared to
conduct a human trafficking investigation in Vandalia or
22} When he was initially arrested on July 6, 2017,
the police were still unaware of Sanderson's sexual
assaults of K.W. and T.B. The record establishes that K.W.
told a friend about the assault, and after hearing about
Sanderson's arrest on the news, the friend contacted
Vandalia police. T.B.'s husband contacted a friend
employed by the Clay Township Police Department, Officer
Martin Stringfellow, for advice on how to report a rape
committed by a police officer. When Officer Stringfellow
heard about Sanderson's arrest on the news, he contacted
the Vandalia police.
23} Thereafter, on August 28, 2017, Sanderson was
indicted for three counts of rape (by force or threat of
force), seven counts of sexual battery (other person in
custody), two counts of gross sexual imposition (by force or
threat of force), two counts of kidnapping (sexual
motivation), one count of aggravated burglary (deadly
weapon), two counts of unauthorized use of a law enforcement
gateway, and four counts of interfering with civil rights. As
previously stated, both kidnapping counts were accompanied by
sexual motivation specifications. At his arraignment on
August 31, 2017, Sanderson pled not guilty to the charged
24} On October 3, 2017, Sanderson filed a motion to
suppress any statements he made to police after being
arrested and taken into custody. On December 19, 2017,
Sanderson filed a motion to withdraw his motion to suppress.
On April 6, 2018, Sanderson filed a waiver of his right to a
25} On August 20, 2018, the State dismissed the two
counts of unauthorized use of a law enforcement gateway
(Counts XIV and XV). Sanderson's bench trial began on
August 20 and ended on August 22, 2018. On August 29, 2018,
the trial court filed an entry finding Sanderson guilty of
all of the remaining counts in the indictment. The trial
court also ordered a presentence investigation report (PSI).
26} On September 12, 2018, the trial court sentenced
Sanderson as follows:
Count I - GSI - 18 months
Count II - Rape - 11 years mandatory
Count III- Sexual Battery - merged with Count II
Count IV - Rape - 11 years mandatory
Count V - Sexual Battery - merged with Count IV
Count VI - Kidnapping - 11 years
Count VII - Interference with Civil Rights. - ...