AP NEWS

Trial date set for former vice officer over sex charges

January 30, 2020 GMT

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A federal judge set a trial date for a former Ohio vice squad officer accused of forcing women to have sex with him under threat of an arrest.

Former Columbus police officer Andrew Mitchell, 56, is also charged with pressuring others to help cover up crimes and lying to federal investigators when he said he’d never had sex with prostitutes.

U.S. District Court Judge Edmund Sargus this week set a March 30 date for Mitchell, who has pleaded not guilty. A federal indictment accused Mitchell, a 30-year veteran, of arresting two different women and forcing them to have sex before he would release them. Mitchell’s attorney says the allegations are unfounded.

Mitchell also faces state charges accusing him of fatally shooting a woman during an undercover prostitution investigation.

Columbus police said Mitchell shot and killed 23-year-old Donna Castleberry in August 2018 after she stabbed him in the hand during an undercover prostitution investigation. Mitchell, who has pleaded not guilty, said it was self-defense.

Castleberry’s family is seeking more than $3.5 million in damages in a federal wrongful death lawsuit against Mitchell, the city of Columbus and its police department.

In addition, a new lawsuit was filed this week by a woman accusing Mitchell of raping her while she was handcuffed in an unmarked police car. Mark Collins, Mitchell’s attorney in his criminal cases, said he hasn’t seen the lawsuit but that Mitchell will “fight it vigorously” once he obtains an attorney who handles civil cases.