January 4, 2023: Former Annapolis Police Department Officer Pleads Guilty to Misconduct in Office
Maryland State Prosecutor Charlton T. Howard III announced today that Gwynne L. Tavel, Jr., a former Annapolis Police Department Officer, pleaded guilty to misconduct in office for failing to investigate sexual assault allegations.
According to the Statement of Facts in support of the plea, while working at the Annapolis Police Department, then Corporal Tavel received a complaint dating back to August 2018 where a young woman reported being raped. He failed to communicate with the victim and notify her of the closure of her case. He then used his supervisory position to indicate that the closure of her case was related to her being “uncooperative” despite having not answering her calls or speaking to her in over two years.
Mr. Tavel was sentenced today by the Honorable Stacy McCormick, Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, to probation before judgment with one year of probation and 100 hours of community service. Mr. Tavel previously resigned from the Annapolis Police Department.
This case was previously charged by the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office and dismissed in a hearing before The Honorable Mark Crooks, who determined that a compelled statement from Corporal Tavel was inextricably linked with the indictment charging him with certain offenses.
After the dismissal, the Office of the State Prosecutor served as a “clean team” in investigating the case without exposure to Corporal Tavel’s prior statement to prevent any use or derivative use of the statement. Courts have determined that police officers’ statements, when interviewed by internal affairs in relation to official misconduct, may not be voluntary statements and thus run afoul of constitutional Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination, because the officer can be internally disciplined for failing to respond to questions.
“The Office of the State Prosecutor is committed to ensuring that citizens receive fair and professional treatment by police officers tasked to investigate crimes, especially those as sensitive as sexual assault allegations,” said Howard. “Cases like these require complex legal and investigative efforts and I’m proud of our team’s work to achieve this result.”
Mr. Howard thanked and acknowledged Deputy State Prosecutor Sarah R. David, Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Letam P. Duson, Special Agent George Taylor, and Special Agent John Sieracki for their work on this case. Mr. Howard also thanked Anne Arundel County Assistant State’s Attorney Jason Steinhardt for serving as a filter agent during this investigation.
A copy of the charging document can be found HERE.
A copy of the statement of facts read into the record at the January 4, 2023 plea hearing can be found HERE.