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2 St. Louis Police Officers Arrested On Rape and Misconduct Charges, Sergeant Charged With Witness Tampering
Officers Lafeal Lawshea and Torey Phelps were arrested on charges stemming from multiple incidents as far back as 2009, while Sgt. Jatonya Clayborn-Muldrow was charged with witness tampering.
Two St. Louis police officers have been arrested this week on multiple charges stemming from four alleged rapes over the past 12 years, while a sergeant with the department has been arrested on charges related to witness tampering regarding one of the alleged incidents, according to court documents.
Officer Lafeal Lawshea, 38, who has been with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department since 2008, faces two counts of forcible rape along with counts of forcible sodomy, sexual misconduct, and tampering with a victim from alleged incidents occurring in 2009 and 2010. Additionally, he faces charges of sexual misconduct from a 2019 incident involving a civilian police department employee and a charge of tampering or attempting to tamper with a victim in March 2020 in relation to that incident, according to St. Louis Division of Corrections online records.
Officer Torey Phelps, 38, who has been with the department since 2007, was charged with one count of forcible rape and is accused of intercourse with an incapacitated woman stemming from an incident in 2010, records show.
Both officers were charged on Wednesday. Lawshea and Phelps worked together in at least one of the alleged sexual assaults, according to court documents obtained by the St. Louis Dispatch.
On Tuesday, Sgt. Jatonya Clayborn-Muldrow, 48, was charged with witness tampering in regards to a lunch meeting last year with one of the alleged victims — the civilian police department employee — where she is accused of attempting to talk the woman out of reporting an alleged sex assault by Lawshea, charging documents indicate; it was “just a misunderstanding,” she allegedly told the victim. Clayborn-Muldrow then allegedly sought details about who would be leading the department’s internal affairs investigation, arriving at the office on March 16 last year while the victim was issuing her complaint.
Clayborn-Muldrow was put on administrative duty the following day, her lawyer confirmed to Oxygen.com on Friday. This week, she was placed on administrative suspension, he said.
Two of the alleged incidents involving Lawshea took place in 2009. He is accused of raping the women on separate occasions: once after allegedly spiking one of the women’s drinks and another time after allegedly serving the second victim two strong drinks. In the alleged December 2019 attack, the civilian police department employee said she declined Lawshea’s advances, after which he sexually assaulted her against a wall.
After the employee made her internal affairs complaint in March 2020, Lawshea allegedly texted her, “Are we cool?” before going on to deny the assault took place in a series of messages to the alleged victim, according to the charges.
The allegation against Phelps stems from a 2010 incident in which a woman says she was raped by the officer after being given a strong drink by Lawshea at a bar; the alleged rape took place at Lawshea’s home in St. Louis’ Greater Ville section while the officer was present, charging documents state.
“Are you going to let him do this to me?” the woman asked Lawshea, according to the documents.
On Wednesday, Phelps and Lawshea were denied bond by Circuit Court Judge Michael Colona. In a statement this week, St. Louis police Chief John Hayden promised an exhaustive probe into the accusations against the officers.
“Any allegations that compromise the integrity of the department will be investigated thoroughly and impartially,” he said of his accused officers. “Most notably, this situation should recognize the courage of several victims to come forward and share their story with my Internal Affairs Division, who they trusted to be confidential and complete. My pledge to accountability and transparency has not wavered and I hope our citizens recognize that we will make every effort to continue to work to gain their trust.”
Lawshea, Phelps, and Clayborn-Muldrow are still employed by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. It is unclear if either has retained an attorney to comment on their behalf.
Attorney Peter Bruntrager, who is representing Clayborn-Muldrow, said that the charge is retaliation from a local circuit attorney’s office after his client led a misconduct investigation. That case is currently pending in the St. Louis Circuit Court.
“There is a clear conflict of interest in this case," Bruntrager told Oxygen.com over the phone on Friday.
Clayborn-Muldrow's bail conditions, including house arrest and GPS monitoring, were dropped at a hearing Wednesday, Bruntrager said. She is still not allowed to contact the alleged victim.