Cop Forced Couple to Perform Sex Act

May 25, 2000

By Cathy Scott
( -- Las Vegas police have settled a lawsuit for $100,000 with a couple that was forced to perform an oral sex act on each other while a patrol officer looked on.

Michael Healy and Norma McKee will each receive $50,000 to settle federal civil rights suits they filed separately against the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Healy and McKee were engaged to be married but have since split up because of the incident, a court affidavit said.

Former Officer Michael Ramirez pleaded guilty in March 1998 to two counts of oppression under the color of office. The 30-year-old former officer admitted that on Oct. 4, 1996, he used his badge, gun and the indirect threat of arrest to force the couple to engage in sex in front of him at an isolated spot near Red Rock Canyon, about 14 miles west of Las Vegas.

Ramirez was on light desk duty and was not authorized to be in the area or make traffic stops, police said at the time.

Citizen complaint

Two days later, the couple filed a citizen's complaint with the department's Internal Affairs Bureau. As a result, police fitted Healy with a hidden audio recorder and arrangements were made for him to encounter Ramirez at a restaurant. The resulting recording confirmed the couple's story, as did a later interview of Ramirez by detectives, the arrest affidavit said.

McKee told a grand jury that Ramirez approached the couple's car, which was parked near Red Rock Canyon, and began asking inappropriate questions. Then, McKee testified, he fondled her thigh and vaginal area. She said she complied because Ramirez, who was not in uniform, displayed a badge and a gun that identified him as a police officer.

Then, at Ramirez's request, Healy performed oral sex on McKee while Ramirez watched, according to Healy's testimony before the same grand jury.

Consent or coercion?

Ramirez's version nearly mirrored the victims' accounts of the crime, Deputy District Attorney Vickie Monroe noted at the time of the sentencing. The difference, the judge said in court, was that Ramirez claimed the sex act was offered and consensual, while the victims claimed it was coerced by the threat of arrest.

"We got two felony convictions on this guy and have made sure he will never work as a police officer again," Monroe said during her ruling.

The settlement is the maximum allowed by state law from the department, which is self-insured, said Officer Tirso Dominguez, a spokesman for the department.

The department's five-member fiscal oversight board determined that the officer was negligent in the incident, Dominguez said.

Ramirez, who had been on the department for five years when the crime occurred, was fired in February 1997.

By Cathy Scott, an correspondent.

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