Former Suffolk County Police Officer Christopher McCoy, left, arrives at...

Former Suffolk County Police Officer Christopher McCoy, left, arrives at federal court in Central Islip with his attorney William Petrillo on Thursday. Credit: James Carbone

A former Suffolk police officer was sentenced to 1 year in prison Thursday for pressuring a woman he arrested to twice engage in sexual acts in a police precinct, officials said.

Christopher McCoy, 40, of Sayville, a 10-year veteran of the police department, pleaded guilty in October 2018 to a single federal misdemeanor count of deprivation of civil rights under color of law.

The sentence was the maximum under federal law.

McCoy was originally charged with committing a felony in violating the victim’s civil rights. But to continue charging him with a felony would have required the government to prove that he used force or the threat of force, such as using a gun, in order to get the victim to perform oral sex, Assistant Eastern District United States Attorney Lara Treinis Gatz said in federal court in Central Islip.

A further investigation showed, however, that the situation was more of “a disparate power dynamic” in which the woman “felt pressured” and “felt she had no choice” but to perform sex acts, Treinis Gatz said.

If McCoy had been convicted of a felony in violating the victim’s civil rights, he would have faced a possible sentence of 87 to 106 months in prison, U.S. Magistrate Gary Brown said before imposing the sentence. 

“The Suffolk County Police Department assisted the FBI in its criminal investigation into this matter and Christopher McCoy was suspended from duty without pay on April 6, 2017, when the department first became aware of the reported incident,” Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said in a statement. “While still suspended from duty, McCoy resigned on August 13, 2018."

Brown also ordered McCoy to serve 1 year of supervised release, as well being barred from serving in a law enforcement or law enforcement-related job, and allowing the federal probation department to polygraph him in the future as a check on his conduct.

McCoy declined to comment before sentencing. One of his attorneys, Edward Sapone, said his client was still facing a federal civil lawsuit brought by the victim.

The victim was not in court, but McCoy’s father and brothers asked that he be given a more lenient sentence, saying the crime was a single aberration in his life.

Afterward, another of McCoy’s lawyers, William Petrillo, said: “It has always been our position that as wrong as his conduct was, that at no time was there any direct or implied force. We believe that the misdemeanor is a just outcome.”

Treinis Gatz declined to comment.

In her civil suit, the victim described herself as “panicked and terrified” and said she “looked away from Officer McCoy in revulsion and shook her head to indicate that she did not want to engage in any sexual acts … [but] Officer McCoy’s continued physical and verbal intimidation left [her] fearing for her safety and convinced she would be incarcerated for resisting arrest if she did not comply with Officer McCoy’s demands” for oral sex.

The victim was not named in the federal criminal case against McCoy, but is identified in a federal civil suit she filed against him, his partner at the time, and Suffolk County, seeking $40 million in compensatory damages, plus punitive damages.

Newsday has a policy of not naming the victims of sexual crimes.

The incident began in March of 2017 when the victim was driving in Wyandanch. McCoy and a partner in a marked patrol vehicle stopped the car.

McCoy told her there were outstanding warrants for her because of traffic violations. Though the victim had documents to prove that those cases had been resolved, she was nevertheless “falsely arrested and imprisoned,” according to her suit.

McCoy groped her at the scene and sexually abused her twice when he was alone with her at the First Precinct in West Babylon, her suit says.

In her lawsuit, the victim said she contacted the FBI about the sexual abuse, “fearing the Suffolk County Police Department would do nothing if she reported the crime, or worse retaliate against her.”

On April 6, FBI agents interviewed McCoy, who at first denied having any sexual contact with the victim. But when agents told him they were going to take an oral swab from his cheek in order to collect a DNA sample, “he admitted having engaged in oral sex with [the woman],’’ a federal complaint said.

An FBI forensic examiner later comparing the DNA swab to a stain on the victim’s shirt concluded that McCoy “was a likely DNA contributor to the stain,” which was semen, the complaint said.

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