For anyone who thinks it's OK for police officers to have sex with offenders they're driving to jail, state law now says it's not.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 2078 last Friday to close what its author, Republican Assemblyman Jim Nielsen of Gerber, called a legal loophole that surfaced in the case of an Anderson police officer initially charged with raping a woman he was transporting. The new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2013.
The accused police officer, Bryan Benson, ultimately pleaded guilty to lesser offenses in a plea deal offered by prosecutors who were wary that the loophole could have allowed Benson to argue that the sex in 2010 was consensual, according to news accounts at the time.
State law bans officers from having sex with confined inmates in a jail or prison, or while they are being transported to one. In the Anderson case, however, the woman arguably was not yet confined - she had been taken into custody on suspicion of drunken driving and was headed to jail for booking.
If AB 2078 had been in effect when Officer Benson was arrested, and he had been convicted of rape and kidnapping charges initially filed, he could have been sentenced to life in prison.
The plea deal promised Benson no more than one year in jail - and he does not have to register as a sex offender.