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Police bigwig loses rank after defending convicted rapist

A top police official in Indianapolis has been stripped of his rank after defending a convicted rapist, asking a judge in a letter for leniency on behalf of the “honest, hardworking and dependable” father. Michael Jefferson — who formerly served as a major in the command staff of Police Chief Bryan Roach, as well as...

A top police official in Indianapolis has been stripped of his rank after defending a convicted rapist, asking a judge in a letter for leniency on behalf of the “honest, hardworking and dependable” father.

Michael Jefferson — who formerly served as a major in the command staff of Police Chief Bryan Roach, as well as his predecessor — pleaded with a judge to be compassionate and forgiving at the Dec. 6 sentencing of convicted rapist Lance Fleming, 58, the Indianapolis Star reports.

“I have been around many evil people that deserve to be put in jail for a very long time,” Jefferson wrote in the letter that was included as a defense exhibit in court. “I have known Lance for at least that long. He doesn’t come close to fitting that category.”

Jefferson, a 27-year department veteran, said both he and Fleming served in the Indiana National Guard and later realized that he was related to a high school classmate of his.

“I also found out he and my sister worked at the same place,” Jefferson’s unorthodox letter continued. “I know him to be honest, hardworking, dependable and a great father. As I understand it this is a questionable case. It wouldn’t serve anyone if Lance received time in jail.”

Jefferson also praised Fleming as a positive role model for his six children, including one who works as a firefighter for the city.

“Lastly, due to the type of father, citizen and contributor to society he has been, I ask that you show leniency and allow him to serve his time on some sort of house arrest or probation that requires reporting as opposed to jail time,” the letter continued. “That way he can continue to be an asset in the community, keep his jobs and be a father to his children.”

Fleming, for his part, denied raping the female friend he was accused of attacking in 2015. He went to fix the woman’s door and started undressing himself while walking toward her at one point, according to a probable cause affidavit.

He then pinned her down on a bed and raped the woman as she pleaded with him to stop, court records show.

“There was nothing I could do,” the woman told police. “He was so heavy on me that I couldn’t breathe.”

Fleming, who was convicted of rape and attempted rape, ultimately was sentenced to five years in prison and must register as a sex offender.

Assistant Chief Randal Taylor told the newspaper that officers must check with their commanders prior to testifying in court on behalf of a defendant.

“At the least, he should have contacted me to run it by me prior to sending that letter,” Taylor said. “That was never done. I wouldn’t have authorized it in the first place.”

Jefferson will be stripped of his rank Friday, returning to his previous rank of lieutenant. He will also lose his leadership role in the department’s community engagement office, the newspaper reports.

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