A former police officer has been accused of abusing his power in order to detain eight men and sexually assault them.
Marcellis Blackwell, 34, an officer who used to work for North County Police Cooperative in Missouri, was indicted on 21 federal charges on 27 September for the alleged sexual assaults between November 2022 and June 2023.
Sixteen of those counts are for deprivation of rights under the colour of law, meaning he willingly deprived a person of rights over their body.
The five other counts accuse him of altering records in a federal investigation.
The St Louis-based officer allegedly kidnapped the eight men on separate occasions and turned off his body camera before “fondling their genitals” - sometimes when they were handcuffed, a statement from the Eastern District of Missouri Attorney’s Office read.
Alongside this sexual abuse, he also allegedly sodomised one man with his finger.
A motion seeking to keep Mr Blackwell in jail until his trial said he “victimised people he thought would be less likely to report his behaviour.”
US Attorney Sayler A Fleming suggested in the statement that Mr Blackwell had recorded the assaults on his phone, and the FBI is still looking into whether there are more victims on video.
“The conduct alleged in the indictment is unacceptable for anyone, but infinitely more so for a police officer and when it involves handcuffed, helpless victims,” said Mr Fleming.
“We are not investigating the violation Blackwell cited to detain his victims,” said Special Agent in Charge Jay Greenberg of the FBI St Louis Division. “Our focus is on Blackwell’s alleged abuse of power to sexually assault his victims. Our goal is to bring justice to victims and to provide victim services.”
Seven more victims came out about the sexual assault they experienced after one man spoke out about it in the press.
This was after one of the victims claimed that Mr Blackwell touched his genitals without consent while his hands were handcuffed behind his back on 3 June.
Mr Blackwell was then arrested on 7 June and was at the time charged with one count of sodomy or attempted sodomy and was held on a $500,000 bond.
He pleaded not guilty and resigned from the police department.
At the time of Mr Blackwell’s initial arrest, Police Major Ron Martin called the allegations set against the officer “massively disheartening” and vowed to open an immediate investigation.