Detective who sent ‘sexually suggestive’ messages to attempted rape victim fired

A detective who sent topless pictures to a victim of attempted rape and asked her about sugar daddy arrangements has been sacked.

Detective Sergeant Jonathan Pearce, 45, was dismissed after being found to have committed gross misconduct.

The Kent Police officer tried to enter into a sexual or emotional relationship with the vulnerable young woman, who he met on Facebook, a panel decided.

A father and a long-serving officer, Mr Pearce had specialist training in dealing with sexual offences.

He covered his face with his hand at his misconduct hearing on Wednesday as he was told that the only appropriate outcome was dismissal without notice.

The “flirty” messages, detailed during the three-day misconduct proceedings, came after she had told him she had been the victim of an attempted rape.

They included:

– Saying “Maybe a little bit” after the woman said to him “you want me”
– Asking what he would get after she sent him a screenshot from a newspaper article about sugar daddies
– Telling Miss A that if he were “20 years younger” he would have asked her out
– Sending her topless photographs of himself

Delivering the panel’s ruling on punishment, chairwoman Chiew Yin Jones said: “The officer’s failure to refer Miss A to the appropriate safeguarding processes left her potentially vulnerable to further harm.

“The panel was satisfied that the officer’s conduct was likely to undermine public confidence in policing.”

She said that Mr Pearce had tried to conceal his involvement with Miss A by deleting messages between them.

In mitigation the panel recognised that the officer had no previous disciplinary matters on his record.

However it concluded that the levels of harm and culpability for Mr Pearce were both high, and that the appropriate outcome was dismissal.

He has the right to appeal against the ruling.

Following the hearing, Superintendent John Phillips of Kent Police’s Professional Standards Department said: “DS Pearce received considerable training and benefited from years of experience in dealing with sexual offences.

“He failed to safeguard a vulnerable woman or take any action following the disclosure of a serious offence.

“He continued to engage with the victim, sending her sexually suggestive messages.

“The vast majority of Kent Police officers conduct themselves professionally, putting victims of crime at the heart of everything they do and for the last four years the force has been graded as ’outstanding’ by the independent policing inspectorate for the way people are treated.”

Graham Beesley, Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) regional director said: “DS Pearce breached police professional standards of behaviour by inappropriately engaging with a vulnerable woman and failing to take appropriate action or secure evidence when she disclosed someone had attempted to rape her.

“The woman trusted DS Pearce with this information and he abused this trust.

“Kent Police’s response to our investigation and the panel’s decision shows that such behaviour will not be tolerated.”