Police Officer Accused of Kidnapping Several Women, Coercing Them Into Sex

Photo: Thornton, Jennifer (USAOHS)/AP

On Monday, a 30-year veteran detective with the Columbus Police Department was arrested by federal authorities for allegedly “kidnapping” several women under the guise of an arrest, and forcing them to “engage in sex for their freedom.”

According to a release from the Department of Justice, Andrew Mitchell, 55, was arrested after a grand jury indicted him on March 7. Mitchell now faces life in prison over his charges. Here’s everything we know about the case so far.

Mitchell has been working for Columbus PD since 1988.

At the time of the arrest, the Department of Justice release states, he was a detective in the Vice Unit, and had been assigned to that post since March 2017. Part of his responsibilities were to conduct law enforcement action for solicitation offenses.

He arrested over 200 women in the last two years.

Over the course of his time in the Vice Unit, WBNS-TV reports, he arrested over 200 women. One of the women arrested told WBNS-TV that Mitchell charged her after she balked at his request for sex.

He allegedly “traded” sexual encounters for at least some of the women’s freedom.

According to the Department of Justice report, Mitchell, while acting “under color of law,” deprived victims of their civil rights, particularly, the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

During one incident in July 2017, he allegedly kidnapped a victim under the pretense of an arrest, and transported her to a location where he forced her to perform oral sex in exchange for freedom.

In another incident in September 2017, he allegedly coerced a victim into vaginal sex in exchange for freedom, and in the summer of 2018, he allegedly forced a woman to engage in anal sex in exchange for freedom.

He has also been accused of tampering with three witnesses by either threatening them, trying to persuade them not to testify before a federal grand jury, or lying. Additionally, he’s been accused of lying to federal authorities who asked him if he had ever been sexually involved with a prostitute.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Todd Wickerham called the allegations “shocking” and “revolting” during a press conference on Monday, while interim Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan said that the community has “every right to be disgusted” by the news of Mitchell’s arrest and the allegations against him.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that Mitchell was relieved of duty on September 26 of last year as investigations moved forward. According to the Dispatch, Mitchell’s attorney, Mark Collins, said his client “absolutely, 100 percent” denies all of the allegations against him.

Mitchell has been indicted on seven charges.

He has been charged with three counts of depriving individuals of their civil rights under color of law (for which he could face life in prison), two counts of witness tampering, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of making a false statement to a federal agent.

He’s also being investigated for a fatal shooting.

In a case unrelated to the federal charges, Mitchell has also been under investigation for allegedly fatally shooting 23-year-old Donna Castleberry while arresting her on prostitution charges in August of last year. According to WOSU, he shot her three times after she allegedly drew a knife after “an altercation occurred” in the back of his car, during which she stabbed him in the hand.

That case, The Daily Beast reports, will go to a grand jury within the next month.

For now, he remains in federal custody until a detention hearing on Wednesday.

A Police Officer Allegedly Kidnapped Women and Demanded Sex