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Friday, September 26, 2003

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES GUILTY PLEA IN NORTH CAROLINA CRIMINAL CIVIL RIGHTS CASE

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department today announced that a former Fayetteville Police Department officer pleaded guilty in a North Carolina criminal civil rights case.

Christopher Young pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law. Section 242 of Title 18 makes it a crime for a person acting under color of any law to willfully deprive a person of a right or privilege protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States. Young had been previously charged with sexually assaulting three victims and attempting to assault two others.

On April 2, 2003, Christopher Young, then an officer with the Fayetteville Police Department, was charged with five counts of deprivation of rights under color of law. During April and May of 1998, the defendant allegedly used his powers as a police officer - including threats of arrest, jail time or additional charges - to coerce women he stopped or arrested into having sex with him against their will.

"The Department will continue to prosecute the abuse of power by a small minority of law enforcement officers to ensure that the trust between law enforcement and communities remains strong," said R. Alexander Acosta, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "Today's guilty plea sends a strong message that police officers who undermine public confidence in law enforcement by violating the very laws they swore to uphold will be held accountable and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Young faces a maximum term imprisonment of ten years, fines up to $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release. The sentencing will be in accordance with the United States Sentencing Guidelines. In addition to his guilty plea, Young has also agreed to make restitution to the victims, waive his right to appeal whatever sentence is imposed, and pay a special assessment fee.

"It is intolerable that any police officer in this country would use his position to extract sexual favors from citizens in his custody," said Frank D. Whitney, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina. "We will continue to vigorously prosecute such abuse of power in the future."

Trial attorneys from the Criminal Section of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina jointly prosecuted this case.

More information about the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division can be found on the Justice Department's website at www.usdoj.gov/crt/crim/index.html.

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News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney's web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.

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