Kevin Sledge, a suspended officer from the Lawrence city police department, has been sentenced to serve no less than 10 years without parole in a state prison. The sentence comes following his conviction for raping a 23-year-old mother while he was on duty and in uniform back in 2008.
Sledge’s Misuse of Authority
Sledge, a 48-year-old resident of Salem, N.H., received his sentence this week at the Newburyport District Court from Judge Richard Welch. The judge stated that the victim was heavily intoxicated, and Sledge took advantage of the situation, according to the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune.
Verdict and Sentencing
A jury of 12 individuals found Sledge guilty of rape and three charges of indecent assault and battery last week. In his remarks during sentencing, Judge Welch stated: “The sentence is a harsh sentence. The defendant did indeed violate a position of trust.” Sledge, who had a 17-year career as a police officer, was also given a five-year probation term on each indecent assault and battery charge to follow his prison sentence.
The Case Background
According to the case details, Sledge violated the woman multiple times in his private vehicle, a silver Jaguar, that he parked behind the police station on September 26, 2008. He was working in the booking room at the time and frequently deserted his post to engage in the illicit acts.
Consequences for the Offending Officer
Upon his arrest, Sledge was instantly suspended from the police department and lost his paycheck following his indictment. Post-prison, he will be obligated to register as a sex offender, undergo counseling for sex offenders, pay various fines, and maintain no contact with the victim, her family, or the victim’s best friend, Regina Perry, who testified against Sledge during both rape trials. Sledge’s first trial in September 2010 ended with a hung jury.
Apology and Impact Statement
Sledge made a public apology in court saying, “I made the wrong decisions and I apologize to the court.” He appeared in court in a formal outfit of suit pants, a dress shirt, and a green tie.
The victim, who was in court accompanied by her mother, shared an impact statement that described the aftermath of her assault and the toll it took on her and her children.
A Victim’s Struggle
In her statement, the victim revealed her struggles post-trauma, including deep depression, housing instability, and difficulties in taking care of her children. She said that she was constantly on edge, especially upon seeing silver cars, which reminded her of Sledge’s vehicle.
A Judge’s Observations
While delivering the sentence, Judge Welch acknowledged the contrasting aspects of Sledge’s character: his perceived loving and supportive persona within his family and the man who committed serious crimes. Before finalizing the sentence, Welch praised the victim’s courage for testifying.
Family Reactions to the Verdict
Shawn Sledge, the convicted officer’s nephew, expressed his hopes for the victim’s future and shared his thoughts on the sentence. Last week, following the announcement of the guilty verdicts, Sledge’s wife, Bernice Aguirre, had a dramatic emotional reaction in the courtroom, which led to the judge warning against such outbursts at the sentencing.
The courtroom remained quiet except for the voice of Judge Welch as he announced Sledge’s sentence. Following the sentencing, one of the jurors from Sledge’s first trial quickly exited the courthouse, demonstrating the impact of this case on all those involved.
A Dark Past Revealed
Sledge’s conviction in this case was not his first encounter with serious charges; he was acquitted of a separate rape charge back in 1999.