COLUMBIA, S.C. – A former South Carolina sheriff's deputy accused of forcing a woman to perform oral sex while he was on duty will not serve any jail time after pleading guilty to misconduct in office.
Dereck Johnson, 36, entered the plea on Wednesday, said his attorney, Carl B. Grant. A judge sentenced the former Orangeburg County deputy to five years in prison, suspended to three years' probation and community service, Grant said.
Johnson, who could have faced up to 10 years in prison, is also barred from seeking another job in law enforcement.
A woman accused Johnson of forcing her to perform oral sex on him after he threatened to arrest her boyfriend during a domestic violence call. In an interview last year, the couple described to AP the harrowing experience, saying they feared no one would believe the allegation but hoped to shed light on an abuse of power scenario they wouldn't wish on anyone.
Early one morning in June 2016, the woman's boyfriend called authorities after a fight over a social media posting got heated. Two deputies responded, according to an incident report, separating the couple and getting statements from each one, as is standard practice.
A sworn deputy was outside with the boyfriend. A deputy who hadn't yet completed the state's criminal justice academy training course — a trainee officer since identified as Johnson — was inside with the woman.
Once they were alone, the woman says, Johnson gave her the ultimatum: Unless she performed oral sex on him, he would take her boyfriend to jail.
"I started crying," she said, fighting back tears as she recalled the memory. "I kept begging him, 'No, no.' He said, 'If you don't do it, you're going to jail, too.'"
The AP hasn't identified the couple due to the allegations of sexual abuse. Johnson was quickly fired from the force, and on Thursday, Grant said Johnson regrets his actions.
"Unfortunately, he made a serious mistake," Grant said. "Now, his goal is to put this matter behind him and move on with his life."
The attorney representing the woman who made the allegation against Johnson, Justin Bamberg, said the plea represented some closure for his client.
"These types of things should never happen in general, let alone when involving someone who has sworn to protect and serve the public," he said. "We respect the judge's sentence and are hopeful that other officers learn from Mr. Johnson's mistakes."
Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP . Read more of her work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/meg-kinnard/