Ex-Chicago Police Officer Sentenced to Prison for Forcing Woman to Perform Sexual Act in Squad Car

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A former Chicago police officer who forced a woman to engage in a sex act in his squad car in 2019 was sentenced to a year in federal prison, prosecutors said Monday.

James Sajdak, 65, pleaded guilty in November to one count of deprivation of civil rights, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois said in a statement. He was sentenced Friday to the maximum allowed for the misdemeanor charge.

Sajdak Threatened Victim with Arrest if She Didn't 'Get in the Front Seat'

On March 5, 2019, Sajdak flashed the lights of his police vehicle at a woman walking on the street and said something like "You can get in the front seat or you can get in the back," which he meant to be a threat of arrest, Sajdak admitted in a plea agreement. The woman got in the front seat.

Sajdak locked the doors, drove to an abandoned lot and forced her to do a sex act, the plea agreement said. Sajdak, a police officer since 1989, retired after the incident. The victim sued him and the city, and the case was settled, according to records and his defense attorneys. He was federally indicted in 2022.

Prosecutors Argued Sajdak Knew Victim was a Sex Worker and Would be Reluctant to Report the Crime

Sajdak "abused the power and responsibility with which he had been entrusted," prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo. They also argued that because the victim was a sex worker, Sajdak knew it would be difficult for her to report the crime to police.

Sajdak's "misconduct diminishes the public's trust in law enforcement and the criminal justice system as a whole," Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexandra Morgan and Erika L. Csicsila argued in the memo. "It throws into doubt the integrity of all police officers, including responsible and hard-working officers who are endeavoring to protect the people in their communities."

In court Friday, U.S. District Judge John Tharp told Sajdak that if he had the option under the law, "the sentence would be higher still," the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Sajdak's attorney, Tim Grace, said that his client is looking forward to serving his sentence and moving on with his life. "He made a mistake, admitted that mistake and now will have to deal with the consequences of that mistake," Grace said.

Sajdak's attorneys also wrote in a sentencing memorandum that he takes full responsibility for his actions and agrees his conduct was reprehensible, and they asked for mercy. "He retired with shame from the Chicago Police Department and is considered a pariah and an embarrassment to all law enforcement," his attorneys wrote. They asked for probation.