A former state trooper faces up to nine years in prison for having sex with, groping, photographing and harassing women he stopped on Ohio roadways and then ripping up their traffic tickets or not citing them in the first place.
Bryan D. Lee, 30, of Lancaster, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court this week to charges of cyber-stalking and violating the civil rights of four victims. Some of the sexual misconduct occurred while the women were in handcuffs or detained.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s public corruption task force.
Lee worked as a trooper from Jan. 2006 until his resignation Nov. 4, 2013. The sexual misconduct incidents occurred between November 2010 and September 2013.
A routine supervisory review of Lee’s dash-camera video in October 2013 triggered the internal investigation, said Ohio Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Craig Cvetan. Lee’s conversation with two women in a car stopped for suspected drunken driving appeared flirtatious and then Lee turned off his microphone, Cvetan said.
According to court filings, Lee put the passenger, “TF,” in his patrol car, took a photo of him touching TF’s breasts and later stalked her on Facebook.
But years before that incident, there were signs of trouble with Lee.
In February 2011, the patrol opened a criminal investigation of Lee’s sexual misconduct involving a victim identified as “NS,” who had driven her car down an embankment the night of Nov. 19, 2010. During that patrol-led inquiry, Lee lied to investigators about the incident and wrongfully blamed the victim, the federal court papers say.
The incident with NS was the first of four included in the federal case against Lee. According to the statement of facts, Lee responded to the accident scene, turned off his body microphone, groped NS’s breasts while she was handcuffed and rubbed his genitals against her. He eventually drove her home and released NS to her mother.
The statement of facts in the federal case say that Lee sometimes stalked his victims on social media, seeking naked photos and making threats. In one case, he convinced a woman he had stopped to have sex with him at an abandoned gas station and then he ripped up her traffic ticket.
Lee had been reprimanded for other misconduct as well. On June 28, 2009, he turned off his body microphone during a traffic stop of two off-duty police officers who were clocked going more than 100 miles per hour down Interstate 70, Cvetan said.
The patrol released Lee’s personnel file and official photo but declined to release dash-cam video of the four traffic stops, saying the federal criminal case is still open.
Lee was released on his own recognizance while awaiting sentencing before U.S. District Court Judge Michael Watson.
Nov. 19, 2010: Trooper Bryan Lee responded to a car wreck involving victim “NS,” who failed field sobriety tests. Lee turned off his body microphone, groped NS’s breasts while she was handcuffed and rubbed his genitals against her. He drove her home and released her to her mother.
Nov. 21, 2010: Lee stopped “KD” for speeding and found she was driving without a valid license and had a warrant for her arrest. He told the male passenger to walk to the nearest rest stop. Lee groped KD’s breasts and cited her for traffic offenses but did not charge her for pills and drug paraphernalia found during the stop. Lee later stalked KD on Facebook, demanding naked pictures of her.
March 22, 2012: Lee cited “JE” for speeding and then pulled her over a second time because she was upset and crying. JE sat in Lee’s patrol car and allowed him to take a cellphone photo of her topless. Lee convinced her to drive to an abandoned gas station where they had sex. Lee then tore up the speeding ticket. JE and Lee later had a consensual relationship until she discovered on Facebook that Lee was married.
Sept. 8, 2013: Lee flirted with two women on a traffic stop. He turned off his mic, allowed the driver to drive despite showing signs of impairment, and put the passenger, “TF,” in his patrol car. He took a photo of him touching TF’s breasts and later stalked her on Facebook. A month later, TF was again a passenger during a drunken driving stop by Lee. Lee ticketed the driver for misdemeanor violations and didn’t make a drunken driving arrest. TF walked home.