Ex-Hulett police officer Brice R. Tucker awaits sentencing for one felony count of sexual assault in the third degree and two misdemeanor counts of sexual battery. Tucker pled guilty to two charges, no contest on a third and had four additional charges dismissed under the terms of a plea agreement reached last week.
In accordance with the plea agreement, the State recommended a suspended sentence of not less than five or more than seven years and ten years of probation for the felony charge, as well as payment of restitution. Sentences of between six months and a year in county jail, running consecutively, were recommended for the two misdemeanors.
Tucker pled guilty to sexual assault in the third degree while in a position of authority over the victim, a felony involving sexual contact without intrusion or serious bodily harm. The defendant was on duty as a relief school bus driver at the time of the alleged incident.
According to Sheriff Steve Stahla’s affidavit outlining his investigation, victim one, aged 18 at the time, reported during an interview with Deputy April Gill that Tucker made a sexual advance towards her while they were alone together on the bus.
When Tucker dropped victim one off, he is reported to have asked her to come to his house later that afternoon. He later turned up on her doorstep to tell her she could come over after his wife left for work at 5 p.m.; victim one said she neither went to Tucker’s house nor called him.
According to victim one, the assault was not the first sexual contact between her and Tucker; an additional charge that was dropped for the plea agreement involved an incident in 2007, during which time Tucker allegedly engaged in sexual activity with the victim who would have been 16 at the time.
Victim one initially met Tucker, according to her interview, when she was in grade school and he was assisting with the DARE program she was involved in. While she was in high school, she reported that Tucker, while in uniform and a marked patrol car, would stop to talk to her and her friends and that she felt comfortable around him at that time.
Tucker also pled guilty to one charge of sexual battery, a misdemeanor involving immodest or immoral sexual contact with a child, unlawfully submitting another person to sexual contact. The charge was reduced under the terms of the plea agreement from a felony charge of sexual assault in the second degree while in a position of authority over the victim.
Victim two reported meeting Tucker when she was 17, again through his involvement with the DARE program. She said she looked up to him as a police officer and would often talk with him while he was on patrol until, eventually, he asked if she would like to start riding with him.
During the first ride along, victim two claimed that Tucker brought up the subject of sex and began discussing his sex life.
After that night, according to victim two’s interview, Tucker would talk about sex every time she rode with him and the pair kissed and made out on several occasions. She reported having known him for six months before they became intimate and that she was 18 when they first had sexual intercourse.
The alleged incidents involving victim two comprised four of the charges initially entered. Only one charge was included in the final plea agreement.
The third and final count for which Tucker was found guilty, and to which he pled no contest, involved an incident in 2003 with victim three, age 15 at the time. The charge was again sexual battery.
Victim three reported in her interview that Tucker pulled up alongside her in his patrol car as she was walking home and offered her a ride. When she declined because she was less than a block from her house, he continued to persuade her, going so far as to say he would give her a citation for violating curfew.
According to her interview transcript, victim three felt uncomfortable at some of the statements Tucker made, including that she was pretty and could do a ride along with her if she had permission from her parents. She mentioned that she would be 16 in a couple of weeks and Tucker responded that this was the age of legal consent.
Victim three reported that Tucker exited the car and stood beside her. He then allegedly ran his hand up the outside of her thigh while making sexual comments.
Tucker harassed and watched for victim three after this incident, according to her interview transcript, often parking his patrol car at the end of the street for hours, despite it being a dead end with no traffic or activity to justify his presence. She said he “would always talk about young girls and give the impression that he was a police officer and could do what he wanted.”
“The way he acted was horrible,” victim three stated in her interview, claiming she was afraid he would rape her and was “absolutely terrified of it.”
The investigation began in May 2010 when Edward Robinson, Moorcroft Police Chief requested Sheriff Stahla conduct a background investigation of Tucker, who had applied to be a reserve officer in Robinson’s police department. Stahla then spoke with Hulett Police Chief Steve Couch regarding rumors circulating about Tucker involving young girls.
According to Stahla’s affidavit, Couch had heard the same rumors and seen Tucker with victim two in his patrol car. Tucker had also approached Couch in early 2009 to ask whether he was being investigated over his behavior towards victim one on the school bus.
During Tucker’s initial interview with Sheriff Stahla, he admitted to inappropriate conversations with victims one and two but initially denied sexual contact. He eventually admitted an incident on the bus with victim one but claimed it was “you show me and I will show you” and denied touching her.
Tucker denied sexual contact with victim one but admitted sexual relations with victim two during ride alongs.
The Court is not bound by recommendations made through the plea agreement and could sentence Tucker up to 15 years in prison on the felony. Preparation of a pre-sentence investigation report was ordered at the conclusion of the pre-trial; sentencing is expected to take place within 60 days.