Target of convicted police officer's sexual 'impositioning' sues officer, police chief, township

UC student, now 21, claims psychological distress two years after incident near Milford

click to enlarge Target of convicted police officer's sexual 'impositioning' sues officer, police chief, township
Photo: James McNair

Being in a closed room alone with men gives her panic attacks. She is less trusting of police officers. She sees a therapist for post-traumatic stress.

All, she says, because of an incident that happened in the spring of 2015. She was a volunteer Police Explorer for the Miami Township Police Department in Clermont County at the time. But when she joined police Sgt. John Swing one day for a ride-along, hoping to learn something new from an officer she had known for three years, Swing turned it into an invitation for something else.

Swing took her home and led her into his basement, where he wrestled her onto her back on the floor. He then got on top of her, turned her over and spanked her. Although emotionally rattled, the 20-year-old student rejoined the 50-year-old policeman on patrol. While driving, he put his hand on her thigh and moved it into her crotch. She told him to stop. He did.

The woman reported the incident to the Miami Township Police Department. Swing was fired in September 2015 after an internal investigation established grounds that he had committed sexual misconduct. Nine other women said the 18-year department veteran had imposed himself on them, too. He was indicted on three counts of gross sexual imposition, a third-degree felony. Last September a Clermont County jury convicted him of three lesser, misdemeanor counts of sexual imposition. A judge gave him 30 days in jail and three years of probation. He ordered Swing to register as a sex offender. Swing is appealing his conviction.

Now comes the civil damages phase. The victim, now 21, filed suit in federal court in Cincinnati on April 13, naming Swing, Miami Township and township Police Chief Sue Madsen as defendants. She is represented by the law firm of Gerhardstein & Branch in Cincinnati. CityBeat does not name victims of sexual assault without their consent.

"Miami Township was aware of but deliberately indifferent to the unwanted touchings, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and sexual assaults that Officer Swing inflicted on the public during Swing's employment as a police officer," the 20-page complaint states. "By failing to adequately have policies to protect women, policies to prevent sexual abuse, assault and harassment (and) failing to adequately train and supervise Officer Swing, Miami Township acted with deliberate indifference to the health, safety and rights of women to their bodily integrity and personal security."

The lawsuit leaves it up to the court to determine monetary damages. It says the plaintiff, who attends the University of Cincinnati, suffers from panic attacks that cause her to hyperventilate and struggle for breath. She "no longer likes to be touched, which includes friendly hugs from family and friends."

Police Chief Madsen and Miami Township Administrator Jeff Wright did not return telephone calls Thursday. Swing's criminal lawyer, Joshua Engel, wasn't sure what to make of it.

"Sgt. Swing continues to maintain his innocence and hopes to be successful on his criminal appeal," Engel says. "He was a bit confused and surprised to receive a copy of the lawsuit because we had heard she wasn't going to sue anybody." 

CONTACT James McNair at [email protected], 513-914-2736 or @jmacnews on Twitter

Scroll to read more News Feature articles


Join CityBeat Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.