Woman Claims Deputy Assaulted Her in Desert

     El CENTRO, Calif. (CN) – A sheriff’s deputy forced a woman to give him oral sex under threat of arrest – and she’s not the only one, she claims in court.
     Jamie Morris sued Imperial County and its former sheriff’s deputy Stephen Lankford, in Imperial County Court.
     Lankford has been charged with “four counts of soliciting bribes and two counts of residential burglary,” and is also “accused of at least three counts of oral copulation by threatening to use the authority of a public official to incarcerate, arrest or deport the victims,” Morris says in the lawsuit.
     She says she is one of Lankford’s victims.
     “In February 2013, the plaintiff was encamped in a tent on the side of the road of North Imperial Avenue when she was contacted by defendant Lankford on the pretext that he was conducting a search for narcotics or narcotics related paraphernalia,” Lankford says in the complaint. “Defendant Lankford came into the plaintiff’s private, residential tent. At that time, defendant Lankford located within the tent a pipe that he believed to be utilized for narcotics related purposes.
     “At that time, defendant Lankford indicated to plaintiff what she wanted to do about the pipe or he would take her to jail. The plaintiff told defendant Lankford ‘anything,’ at which time defendant Lankford indicated that he wanted a ‘blow job,’ but was working and couldn’t right then. He then directed the plaintiff to pull her pants down to see if she was ‘shaved down there.'”
     Morris says Lankford was in uniform, wearing a badge, and that “fearful of being arrested,” she “submitted to his demands.”
     Lankford returned the next day, but as there were other people around, he “asked plaintiff to meet him at the ‘Sonic Restaurant’ … at 5 p.m. Plaintiff, fearful of what defendant Lankford would do or ask of her, never went to the restaurant and never went back to her residential tent,” according to the complaint.
     Morris says she heard from friends that Lankford was asking around about her, and days later, she “saw Lankford right outside her place of employment. The plaintiff was providing adult care to a family at 7th and Commercial in El Centro, California. Lankford drove up and called plaintiff over to him. At this time, Lankford was in full uniform and was driving a fully marked van used by the Imperial County Sheriff’s Department. Lankford was also wearing his sheriff’s badge displayed in open view.
     “When Lankford motioned plaintiff over to him, he told her that she had an outstanding warrant for failure to appear at a court date. He then told plaintiff that he would take care of the warrant if plaintiff would get in the van and give him a ‘blow job.’ Plaintiff, feeling threatened and fearful of going to jail, got into the front seat of the van. At that point, Lankford drove the van to a remote location. Lankford then told the plaintiff to get in the back of van where he demanded oral copulation from plaintiff. Plaintiff, feeling she had no other choice, yielded to his demands.”
     Morris seeks compensatory and punitive damages for assault, sexual battery, false imprisonment, gender violence, human rights violations, stalking and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
     She is represented by John Breeze.

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