Part of Kandy Linthicum's job as a bartender and waitress is to talk to strangers. During lunch at Charlie's on Main, where she once worked, the regulars call her by her first name, and she remembers theirs.
However, her memories of what happened on her 40th birthday in November 2001 aren't as sharp. She remembers stopping at Madonna's bar downtown, where people started buying her drinks. By the time she left, she'd consumed 12 beers and about four shots.
Then a cop approached to ask if she wanted a ride home, according to Linthicum. She accepted. She recalls a bar employee asking if that were a good idea.
"I said, 'Well, they're police, what could happen?' " Linthicum says.
'Got the best of me'
Two officers, Robert Kidd Jr. and Robert Johnson, took Linthicum home.
They didn't report where they were going, according to statements they later made to internal investigators.
"Probably, if I had to say, we give a lot of people rides in the area just to try to be nice," Kidd said, "I would guess, but I mean a lot — a lot of times, I mean, being nice don't — don't justify not doing proper procedure, I guess I should say."
Linthicum's recollection of what happened in her apartment is spotty. The officers walked into the apartment, took off their gun belts and threw them on the couch, she says. Linthicum says she hadn't invited them in.
"I really didn't feel any kind of threat until they walked in and immediately took off their gun belts," she says.
Kidd told investigators that Linthicum went into another room and changed into something "sexy."
"I was really kind of scared to tell you the truth," Kidd said. "I guess other feelings got the best of me. I, uh, I'm not going to say I put up a hell of a fight, because no means no."
Linthicum says she woke up wearing lingerie but has no idea how she got it on.
"It's like I remember things beginning but I don't remember things ending," she says.
Kidd described Linthicum's behavior to investigators.
"She was flirtatious the entire time about, you know, 'Did you guys want to come in and sit down and talk?' or what have you," he said.
But the police officers also admitted the woman was not in full possession of her faculties. Kidd told investigators Linthicum was "stumbling drunk." Johnson described her as "highly intoxicated."
Linthicum says she was so drunk she can't even remember walking up to her apartment. Kidd told investigators he had to assist her to the door.
If she were that drunk, did the two men who proceeded to have sex with her break the law?
"Under my capacity, I could not have been consensual," Linthicum says. "There are times that I don't remember a thing."
The second time
After that night, Linthicum started feeling she'd been taken advantage of, she says. She experienced anger, depression and loneliness.
"Guilt — the guilt of that I put myself in this situation was huge," she says. "Who was going to listen to me? The police did this. Who was going to believe me?"
She finally got the nerve to call Cincinnati Police District Four and started asking "hypothetical" questions, she says. A sergeant asked if she could meet Linthicum.
But Linthicum says she was scared, especially after a police officer called her by name — even though she hadn't given it. She says she was afraid the police knew who she was and where she lived. She didn't want to be home if they showed up that night, so she went out with friends to get drunk, not coming home until 1 a.m.
When she arrived, she says, Johnson — on duty at the time — called her and said he was downstairs.
"I immediately thought, 'Oh God, he knows,' " Linthicum says.
What she did next complicates the story. On Dec. 12, 2001, less than a month after the first incident, she let Johnson into her apartment and performed oral sex on him.
"He just took charge," she says. "I felt he had been there once — he was going to keep doing this to me."
Linthicum says she felt intimidated by Johnson and feared he was coming to her apartment to do her harm.
Linthicum says she'd been so drunk that when she finally reported the two sexual encounters with on-duty cops, she didn't remember enough to pick the pair from a lineup of officers. In the end, she says, the officers were identified by fingerprints in her apartment.
At first Johnson and Kidd denied to investigators that they'd had sex with Linthicum. But by the end of their interrogations, both changed their stories and admitted having sex with her while on duty.
Kidd said it was Linthicum's idea to have sex. Linthicum, however, says it wasn't something she'd agree to if she were sober. Earlier that same day in November 2001, she had attended a meeting at Women Helping Women, trying to deal with being raped two years prior.
The two cops who drove her home took advantage of her, according to Linthicum.
"They should have been the responsible party because I wasn't," she says. "What, these two big guys can't handle some drunk who can't even stand up on their own?"
She says the cops didn't beat her up but says coercion doesn't have to be physical.
"I'm not even sure I was at the capacity to tell them no," she says.
She says she's disappointed that Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen didn't pursue criminal charges against Kidd and Johnson, calling the sex consensual.
Linthicum says she'd never go home with just any two men. But these were cops, so she felt safe.
"Most people would," she says. "Who are you safest with?"
Later, however, the fact that the men were cops made her feel unsafe and feel that they had authority over her and her actions, Linthicum says.
Ask what the men were wearing
City Manager Valerie Lemmie fired Kidd and Johnson last month. Their attorney, Stephen Lazarus, did not return multiple calls seeking comment.
Linthicum has filed suit in federal court against the two men, claiming the officers exposed their penises and demanded she perform oral sex.
Johnson and Kidd have filed a counterclaim for defamation, denying Linthicum's account of events and saying all physical contact was consensual.
Linthicum has not avoided publicity. After filing suit, she held a press conference.
"There was no face or personality put to this story," she says. "I was just some person they picked up at a bar."
In the past year, Linthicum says, she's had outbursts of anger and depression.
"I'm not as social as I used to be," she says. "It doesn't take anything to hurt my feelings. I feel anything anyone says to me has a hidden meaning or a motive. I don't really know what normal is anymore."
Linthicum has learned that telling isn't always easy — and it won't always turn out the way you hope.
"They're going to try to discredit you as a person," she says.
Sitting in bars, she's overheard people argue about an event that is both the most personal and most public of her life. One questioned why she'd go home with two men she didn't know. Another argued that what the officers did was wrong.
Linthicum says the first question internal investigators asked was what she wore the evening of the first incident. She said she was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt.
But she says it shouldn't matter.
"Well, can you state to me what they were wearing that evening?" she says. "They were wearing police officers' uniforms with badges and guns." ©