A Florida police officer was arrested Tuesday after authorities said he stopped a pedestrian and told her he would not cite her for jaywalking or charge her with sexual misconduct in exchange for sex acts with him.
Nicolas Paloma, 29, was charged with sexual assault and false imprisonment, Clearwater Police Chief Eric Gandy said at a news conference. Paloma has been with the department since 2018.
“I had to check myself before coming here because I am extremely upset about the betrayal of the level of trust people have in our officers,” Chief Gandy said. “This is extremely damaging to our reputation and that of all law enforcement stakeholders.”
The pedestrian stop of a 32-year-old woman occurred early Sunday morning near the Clearwater Beach traffic circle, Chief Gandy said. Investigators determined the woman was a tourist, FOX 13 News reports.
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Paloma allegedly told the woman to get in his car and told her he could take her to his hotel where she could settle the charges by “doing things for him,” Chief Gandy said.
The officer then allegedly took the victim to various locations in Clearwater Beach for approximately half an hour while engaging in sexual acts with her before dropping her off near her hotel.
Chief Gandy said Paloma also made efforts to hide her location from police. Authorities were informed of the incident after responding to an argument between the victim and a friend, during which she told them what happened with Paloma.
“This is intolerable in this profession and certainly in the Clearwater Police Department,” Chief Gandy said.
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Clearwater Police are asking anyone with information about this or other cases to contact them. CPD also contacted the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in case additional cases involving Paloma were reported.
“We have to proceed with a lot of caution,” Chief Gandy said. “This is a guy who, under color of law, took this action, and we have to be very careful to make sure there’s no one else out there. We just don’t know at this stage.”
Paloma has been placed on administrative leave and has no disciplinary history, according to police.