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Former Cop Gets 10 Years for Civil Rights Violation

August 19, 1989

HOUSTON (AP) _ A former police officer who forced a woman to perform a sex act by threatening to have her put in jail was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

State District Judge Norman Lanford gave the maximum term Friday to Frederick Hoy Abbott, 42, for violating the civil rights of a 27-year-old widow he stopped on a highway last year on a possible drinking offense.

The sentenced followed widespread public outcry this month when another former officer was initially given probation in a similar incident.

Abbott planned to appeal.

Lanford said a probationary sentence would have infuriated some people while a prison term likely would anger others.

″Politically, there’s no right solution,″ Lanford said. ″I’m going to do what a judge is paid to do.″

Earlier this month, another former Houston officer, James Cebula, 29, was granted 10-year probation by a jury that convicted him of raping an intoxicated woman he purportedly had arrested.

The probation was widely criticized, and state District Judge Lupe Salinas subsequently imposed a lengthy list of probationary conditions, including a 120-day jail stay.

Character witnesses and Abbott’s lawyer, William McQuillen, had asked Lanford not to imprison Abbott. McQuillen said Abbott’s ″bad side″ had been exorcised when he was fired over the case.

Abbott stopped the victim at 2:30 a.m. on Feb. 9, 1988, soon after she left a bar.

The woman testified Abbott told her she would be taken to jail where she would risk being abused by lesbian prisoners. She said Abbott asked her what she might be willing to do to avoid arrest.

When she asked if he was soliciting money, Abbott named the specific sex act she could perform to avert a trip to jail.

″He kept harping on her,″ prosecutor Don Smyth said. ″He kept driving around and telling her: ’You’re going to go to jail. There are a lot of mean women there.‴

Smyth said the woman began submitting but balked again when Abbott began undressing. Smyth said Abbott then forced her to comply.

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