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Former Oklahoma police officer first to be found guilty under renewed Violence Against Women Act

Bill Oxford
/
Unsplash

The ex-police officer is the first in the nation to face harsher penalties under the 2022 reauthorization of the original act.

A federal jury found Jeffrey Scott Smith Jr. guilty of violating the civil rights of a woman by sexually assaulting her in 2022 during a traffic stop in Savanna, Okla. The previous maximum penalty for the count was 10 years, but Congress’s decision to renew and update the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 enhanced penalties for civil rights offenses involving sexual misconduct.

In a press release, the Justice Department Civil Rights Division’s Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke called the case “historic” and said the Justice Department will hold law enforcement workers accountable when they abuse their authority by engaging in sexual misconduct.

Smith is also facing up to 20 years for two counts of obstruction of justice for turning off his body cam and dash cam prior to the assault.

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Hannah France started her work in public radio at KBIA while studying journalism at the University of Missouri. While there, she helped develop and produce a weekly community call-in show, for which she and her colleagues won a Gracie Award. Hannah takes interest in a wide variety of news topics, which serves her well as a reporter and producer for KGOU.
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