One night in 2009 an Alaskan state trooper picked up the incident file from a domestic violence arrest he'd made earlier in the day and texted the victim. They met up and had sex in his car. And on Wednesday, the Alaska Supreme Court said: kind of icky, but not against "public policy"!
The good news is that the reason the Supreme Court came to consider this case at all because the state trooper was suspended by his superiors. In fact, some wanted to fire him. But his union took the matter to arbitration, and there they convinced the arbitrator that there was no "just cause" for his dismissal.
That put the Alaskan Supreme Court in a bind, because courts are supposed to respect arbitrator awards unless there is serious error (here the precise standard was "gross error"). So, quoth that Court, with the air of the thoroughly squicked-out:
The Trooper-Grievant's misconduct was extremely serious and offensive. If we had been deciding this case it is likely that we would have concluded that under Alaska law, the State had "just cause" to discharge the Trooper-Grievant. Engaging in sexual conduct with a victim shortly after responding to her call for help, even if consensual, is inappropriate behavior for a state trooper. But we may "not vacate . . . an award merely because we would reach a different decision ourselves."
A lot of the reason the court says there's no gross error on the arbitrator's part is that the "just cause" decision does not contravene Alaskan "public policy." What that means is that nowhere does Alaska have a law, regulation, or other kind of legal command whatever it may be, that says, "State Troopers shall not sleep with the people to whose distress calls they respond."
Instances cited by the justices included a time when a trooper signed a woman's breast at a bar in front of other recruits, a trooper's sexual relationship with a 19-year-old while the trooper was supposed to be investigating her criminal complaint of sexual abuse by her stepfather, and a sexual relationship one trooper had with the daughter of a murder victim during an ongoing investigation of that crime.
[Image via Shutterstock.]