Women Say Pennsylvania Cop Committed Sexual Assaults, Recorded Them on Body Camera
Their claims are part of a federal lawsuit; other women say they, too, were assaulted and the officer now faces a raft of criminal charges.
Just before midnight on Dec. 2, 2018, Officer Mark Icker of the Ashley Borough Police Department in Pennsylvania stopped a woman as she drove home from work. He ordered her out of her vehicle and conducted a search that yielded a small amount of marijuana tucked inside a cigarette package. After placing the woman in the back of his police cruiser, Icker allegedly said, “What can you do to help me help you?”
The woman asked Icker if he was referring to sexual favors and Icker allegedly replied, “That’s up to you.” When Icker took the woman to the police department, he guided her into the bathroom, then allegedly fondled her breasts and forced her to perform oral sex on him. Afterward, Icker released her but kept her driver’s license. The woman later claimed Icker also later tried to become her friend her on social media.
Allegations about Icker’s conduct are at the center of a federal civil rights lawsuit filed in early February by the woman, known only as “S. Doe” and another woman, “R. Doe,” who also claims Icker sexually assaulted her. In December, Icker was suspended by Ashley police and then fired from the Sugar Notch police after he was hit with several new charges, including a felony count of sexual assault, related to allegations that he sexually assaulted or solicited sexual acts from multiple women he stopped or arrested in Luzerne County. Icker, 29, worked for three Pennsylvania police departments—Ashley Borough, Sugar Notch, and Jessup—at the time of his arrest, and his bail was set at $1 million.
On Jan. 4, Icker was charged with including indecent assault/forcible compulsion as well as official oppression related to a June 2018 incident in which he allegedly assaulted a woman in her home after arresting her for DUI. On Feb. 22, Icker was hit with another sexual misconduct accusation. A woman said Icker pulled her over in November 2018 for allegedly running a stop sign as she drove a group of children to a Chuck E. Cheese. She said she was able to avoid a ticket by agreeing to perform oral sex on Icker at a later date and that she also sent him a photo of herself in which she exposed a breast.
Icker now faces charges in Luzerne County ranging from misdemeanor official oppression to felony involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, according to court records.
Bernard Brown, Icker’s attorney, maintains that his client’s innocence. “At this point, we think we have a solid defense strategy based on the testimony and evidence collected,” Brown told The Appeal. “We look forward to developing that strategy to prove my client is not guilty.”
Disturbing misconduct allegations from “Does”
In the federal civil rights lawsuit, R. Doe and S. Doe allege that Icker pulled them over in separate incidents just days apart in December 2018. In both situations, the women claim that Icker stopped them without probable cause, said they would be criminally charged, and then sexually assaulted them.
R. Doe alleges that Icker drove her to a secluded park and forced her to perform oral sex on him in the back seat of his police car.
Icker recorded the assaults on R. Doe and S. Doe with a body-worn camera he purchased with personal funds “so he could repeatedly watch those forced sexual encounters,” according to the lawsuit.
“When the people who we are supposed to call for help end up inflicting really significant harm,” said Kristen Houser, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, “it’s just really a terrible breach of trust.”
Icker was a police officer in Luzerne County for about one year. During that time he was the named affiant in 31 cases.
The Appeal reviewed all of the criminal cases Icker filed and found that 23 were ultimately dismissed in the aftermath of allegations against him.
Before charges were filed against Icker, seven cases were disposed of with a guilty plea or an entry into the county’s accelerated rehabilitative disposition program that allows charges to be dropped before a finding of guilt.
In neighboring Lackawanna County, where Icker worked for the Jessup Police Department, The Appeal could not identify any cases where he was the named affiant.
One case filed by Icker remains active and is being prosecuted. It’s an aggravated assault case in which woman is accused of biting an officer at the Ashley police station. The original charges were withdrawn and refiled to include felony possession of contraband because Icker alleges she was found with methadone at the jail.
The public defender and district attorney offices did not respond to requests for comment.
Police excluded from state law barring sexual contact between authority figures and subordinates
In Pennsylvania, the act of an officer engaging in any sexual activity with a person in custody is not a crime by itself.
The state has an institutional sexual assault statute that bars all sexual contact between authority figures like corrections officers and teachers and their subordinates, but police are not covered under the statute.
Pennsylvania is one of roughly 35 states where consent can be raised as a defense if an officer is accused of sexually assaulting someone while in custody.
In 2018, a bill was introduced in the state House of Representatives to change the law, but it did not make it out of committee before the end of the legislative session.
Houser of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape said that when police officers sexually assault people they are sworn to protect, it can be difficult for victims to come forward.
“We know from other people who have been victimized by police officers [there is] that question of is it even safe for me to tell anybody,” she said. “They really want to warn others, but they don’t know if their word will be believed over that of an officer.”