WASHINGTON (AP) — A District of Columbia police officer charged with running a prostitution operation from his apartment will remain behind bars, a judge ruled Wednesday, calling him a “rogue” cop and a major flight risk.
Superior Court Magistrate Judge Frederick Sullivan rejected a defense lawyer’s request to release Linwood Barnhill Jr., during a court hearing that revealed an earlier prostitution-related investigation into the officer.
Barnhill was arrested last week after police found a 16-year-old female runaway in his apartment. The girl told police that Barnhill had taken nude photographs of her and offered to arrange paid sex acts for her with other men, and that she had encountered other woman at the apartment who said they worked as prostitutes for Barnhill.
Another teenage girl subsequently interviewed by police said Barnhill invited her to work as an escort for him, then offered to pay her for sex with another man, authorities say.
Barnhill, 47, has been charged with two counts of pandering of a minor and has been in custody since his arrest.
At a hearing Wednesday, internal affairs officer Jeffrey Williams testified that police had received an anonymous tip in 2011 alleging that Barnhill had been smoking marijuana and was using his apartment for prostitution. Police later conducted surveillance on the apartment but found no evidence to support the allegations, Williams testified Wednesday.
He said Barnhill, who joined the police department in 1989, also faced a separate internal investigation last year after accidentally shooting himself in his apartment. He was injured and has not been on regular duty since then, police have said. Police Chief Cathy Lanier has said the criminal conduct occurred when Barnhill was off duty.
Barnhill learned last week that there was a warrant out for his arrest, and though he told police that he would turn himself in after he had a chance to consult with a lawyer and get something to eat, he waited hours to surrender and was intoxicated when he showed up after midnight at the department’s internal affairs division, Williams said.
Defense lawyer Joanne Slaight urged a judge to release Barnhill as he awaits trial, saying the teenage girls who accused him of wrongdoing were troubled, and that one lied to police about her name.
“He was never accused of threatening these persons. He was never accused of having sex with these persons. He was never accused of hitting these persons,” she said.
Slaight also said there was insufficient corroboration of the teenagers’ accounts, but Sullivan rejected that argument.
“You’re just barking up the wrong tree. There’s all the corroboration in the world,” the judge said.
Barnhill’s arrest followed that of another D.C. police officer, Marc Washington, who was charged this month with producing child pornography after prosecutors say he took semi-nude pictures of a 15-year-old girl. Washington died last week after his body was pulled from the waters of the Washington Channel soon after a judge had released him from custody. Authorities are investigating the death.
Other D.C. police officers have faced sex-related criminal charges in the last few years, including Wendel Palmer, who was convicted last month of sexually abusing a girl who participated in his church choir.