Officer accused of on-duty rape had history of misconduct on the job

Officer accused of on-duty rape had history of misconduct on the job

An investigator revealed disturbing details Monday about an on-duty Lithonia police officer’s alleged rape of a woman last month, amid new revelations about his disciplinary record.

Officer David Wilborn sat with his attorney in a DeKalb County courtroom and listened as a sergeant described how he allegedly raped the victim Sept. 26 at Lithonia Park — less than a mile away from the police station — while her friend lay on the ground feet away.

It’s not the first time the officer has faced allegations of misconduct on the job. The officer, hired by Lithonia in 2017, had a history of complaints against him by co-workers and the public dating back to his work with the Atlanta Police Department. Many of the complaints were sustained and the officer at one point lost his certification after being caught speeding.

The alleged rape victim told police she was in a car with a male friend at Lithonia Park that night, DeKalb police Sgt. T.R. Benjamin testified in DeKalb County Magistrate Court. As they were leaving, Benjamin said, they encountered a police car facing them.

» RELATED: Lithonia police officer arrested on rape, aggravated assault charges

Recounting the victim’s statement to police, Benjamin said the officer approached the car and told the man, who was in the driver’s seat, to get out and get down to his knees. The officer then came over to her side of the car, “flashed the flashlight on her between her legs and then told her to step outside the vehicle,” Benjamin said.

He then took her to the back of the car, she said.

“She put her hands on the trunk of the vehicle, and she felt a gun on her hip,” the sergeant said, adding that Wilborn’s body-worn camera was not turned on.

Wilborn, 42,then allegedly moved his city-issued handgun up her side, lifting her dress, before raping her. The victim’s friend remained on the ground on the other side of the car, and later told police he was too afraid to intervene, Benjamin said.

According to the sergeant, the officer looked at the woman after the rape and said, “This didn’t happen, right?”

“The victim stated that she was afraid and nervous and scared for her life,” Benjamin said.

She went home and told her roommates what happened, before calling 911. She told the dispatcher that “she had been raped, and she did not want the officer who raped her to respond to her house,” the sergeant testified. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution does not identify victims of sexual assault.

Benjamin met with the woman at Emory Hillandale Hospital that night. Investigators quickly identified Wilborn as a suspect because he made a statement to his supervisor that he was at the park that night and had sex with a woman. But Wilborn said the sex was consensual, the sergeant testified.

“He stated … that he messed up and that his career is over,” Benjamin said.

His attorney declined to comment about the case after the hearing Monday.

Judge Claire Jason ruled there was probable cause to move forward with the charges against Wilborn: Rape, aggravated assault and violation of oath by a public officer. He was also denied bond, but court records show he has a bond hearing scheduled for Friday.

Wilborn’s personnel documents obtained by the AJC also shed new light on his disciplinary history before he worked in Lithonia. As an Atlanta Police Department officer, from 2004 to 2007, 17 internal and external complaints were levied against Wilborn, according to his personnel file, obtained from Lithonia. Several allegations were sustained, and he received verbal and written reprimands.

In September 2007, a woman said Wilborn, while on duty and in full uniform, performed a sexual act in front of her at the lingerie shop where she worked. Wilborn admitted to supervisors that he approached the woman at the shop, followed her into a back room and engaged in the act, according to Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) records.

He was not charged with a crime in connection with that incident, but an internal investigation was launched and he was placed on administrative leave from the Atlanta Police Department. He then resigned from the department, so the investigation was closed without an official conclusion.

Three years later, in 2010, Wilborn received a speeding citation in Perry, Georgia, and his POST certification was suspended for two years.

Lithonia knew about the past allegations and POST suspension when he was hired as an officer in 2017, records show. After Wilborn applied to the police department in 2017, a background investigator wrote a letter to the department detailing the past sexual misconduct allegation and the speeding incident.

Lithonia police Capt. Vickie Logan said Monday that Wilborn was able to be hired because his POST suspension was over.

Logan also noted that he was hired by the former police chief, Roosevelt Smith, and it “becomes the discretion of the chief of any department on whether to hire or not” after an officer’s certification has been revoked. Smith was fired by the city in 2018 following complaints from officers that he violated policy, made questionable promotions and created a hostile work environment to the point where 33 employees left under Smith’s leadership.

» READ MORE: Lithonia City Council fired police chief the same day he tried to resign, documents show

Now, the police department in the small DeKalb County city has just 20 police officers, Logan said Wilborn was fired after he was arrested.

Before being an officer in Lithonia, Wilborn worked for a private security company and was in the Army Reserves, where he received multiple medals, according to his application. He completed a sexual harassment/assault response and prevention course with the military in 2016, according to his record.

He also wrote in his 2017 application that he was married to a police officer and had three children.

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Published at Mon, 14 Oct 2019 15:32:00 +0000

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