A Betrayal of Trust: Police Officers Who Exploit Victims of Crime

Amidst revelations in the last few days that the murderer and rapist Wayne Couzens was a member of a “Whats App” group involving other Metropolitan Police officers that is now under investigation for its sharing of misogynistic, racist and homophobic content, and the Met themselves advising the public not to trust plainclothes officers who are acting alone, the confidence and trust that women can have in the Police is at an all time low; and I have been given further reason to reflect on this by discussions with two of my clients regarding abuse that they suffered at the hands of another criminal Police officer – Alan Butler, who was convicted for crimes against them in August of this year.

Here are their stories.

Julia’s Story

My client Julia was raped by her ex-partner in February 2017, when he was staying as a guest at her home; she sought medical assistance and counselling, but initially avoided contacting the Police.  However, Julia subsequently found that her ex- partner had left his gmail account logged on to a computer in her home, and had been viewing disturbing websites.

Julia notified her daughter in law (as her ex-partner had contact with Julia’s granddaughter) and Social Services were informed. As a result, the Police became involved and in March 2017, two officers from Warwickshire Police attended Julia’s home. One of these officers was Alan Butler, a former Detective Constable, who had retired from that position but who continued to work for the Force as a “Police Staff Investigator”.

Butler arranged to visit Julia on a later occasion, ostensibly to discuss the case, and this time he came unaccompanied. Julia was reluctant to give a statement about the attack she had suffered from her ex-partner, and Butler’s purported reason for visiting her was to support/ encourage her to do so. However, he quickly became overly familiar and flirtatious towards Julia, complimenting her on her looks, and taking hold of her hands.

On the pretext of making welfare checks/ discussing the case, Butler then started calling at Julia’s house frequently, during which visits he adopted the persona of a ‘friend’ paying a social visit rather than maintaining the professional demeanour/ distance which his role as a representative of the Police should have required. He made lewd remarks and direct references to wanting to have sex with her.

By now, at Butler’s encouragement, Julia had provided a formal ABE interview to the Police about the rape. Butler continued to visit her and to pester/ harass her, with flirtatious remarks and compliments now turning into physical contact. Butler became increasingly forward, going as far as to touch Julia on the backside, and to kiss her. Julia was caught in a difficult emotional trap, not wanting to hurt Butler’s feelings even though his attentions were unwanted, and also worried about how a rejection of him would affect her case/ potentially endanger her.

Julia explained that since the rape, she was not interested in physical contact, but Butler continued his despicable ‘pursuit’ of her regardless. It seems that he was shamelessly trying to exploit Julia’s vulnerability from the sexual assault she had suffered, in order to take advantage for his own personal gain.

Julia was feeling so harassed by Butler, that she set up CCTV monitoring of her front door, in the hope that it would dissuade him from coming around; sadly it did not. He also bombarded Julia with phone calls and text messages.

Fortunately, Julia had been put in touch with an IVSA counsellor, as part of the rape investigation, and she was eventually able to open up to her counsellor not only about the rape but about Butler’s pestering/ pursuit of her. The Anti- Corruption Unit of Warwickshire Police became involved, and Julia now had to provide an ABE interview detailing all of Butler’s contact with her; this led to Butler’s arrest and prosecution for misconduct in public office.

Alison’s Story

Julia, however, was not the only victim of Alan Butler’s grooming/ attempted sexual exploitation.

I also represent Alison, another woman who disclosed past sexual abuse, only to have the misfortune of having Alan Butler allocated to her case.

Alison had been abused by her adoptive father as a child; as a result of this she developed a psychiatric disorder.

As an adult, and indeed a parent now herself, Alison was eventually able to face up to the abuse she had suffered, and report her adoptive father to the Police; because he lived in Warwickshire at the time, the case was handled by that Force.

Alan Butler, in his role as Police Staff Investigator on the case, invited Alison into Nuneaton Police Station to discuss the case.

Just as he did with Julia, Butler then inveigled his way more and more into Alison’s life, abusing his privileged position as a Police investigator to groom her. Butler praised her appearance, flirted with her, called and visited her at home repeatedly.  He encouraged Alison to apply for a compensation payment from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority in respect of the historic abuse she had suffered, although this had initially not been on her mind at all; in this respect Butler was able to pose as a mentor/ protector in regards to Alison’s journey through the criminal justice system, purportedly there to look out for her welfare, whilst combining this with conduct which can only be described as the sleazy behaviour of a man ‘on the pull’ in a singles bar – including unwanted physical contact, such as touching Alison on the knee when they were talking.

Butler continued to pursue Alison during this very vulnerable time in her life – the prosecution of her adoptive father eventually resulted in his conviction, but the time was one of understandable stress and emotional turmoil for Alison. Butler continued to exploit this by posing as Alison’s ‘Knight in Shining Armour’; he told her there had been another occasion when he had failed to protect a vulnerable woman from suicide, and that he would not let this happen again – he would always be there if she needed him.

For a time, Alison and Butler entered into a sexual relationship. Alison then ended the relationship, but had to continue to deal with Butler as part of the ongoing criminal case against her adoptive father, and he obsessively pestered her and bombarded her with calls, trying to get her to sleep with him again.

Despicably, Butler even used the excuse of having to take another ‘Victim Impact Statement’ from Alison to get her to see him; he was exploiting the fact of her abuse as a child to try to advance his own sexual desires upon her.

Eventually, in the Summer of 2017 Alan Butler came under investigation by Warwickshire’s Professional Standards department following the report made by Julia about his behaviour towards her. At first Butler thought it might have been Alison who had reported him, and went as far as to threaten her with the words “I hope you haven’t said anything, because your Dad would walk if you have.” He then ranted that it must have been the ‘other woman’ who had shopped him.

On hearing this, Alison realised that it was time for her to come forwards and tell the Police about what Butler had done to her; she didn’t know Julia, but could well imagine how Butler had exploited her as well. Alison felt that if Julia’s voice was alone, she might not be believed; she knew that by telling her own story she would be supporting and helping Julia.

Julia herself has since told me that learning that another woman (Alison) had come forwards gave her the strength to see through the difficult process of confronting her own abuse by Butler. Without meeting, the two women were there for one another, and together would ensure that justice would be done – though each now, after having faced the trauma of one criminal investigation process as the victims of sexual abuse, now had to face a second such ordeal brought about by the Police themselves, in the person of Alan Butler.

Butler was charged with Misconduct in Public Office in relation to both Alison and Julia, and initially pleaded not guilty on both counts in January 2019. The case was a long drawn out and stressful process for both of my clients; Butler claimed ill health and managed to have his first trial, listed for September 2019 adjourned. The Pandemic then intervened and the trial re-listed for June 2020 was also cancelled.

The case finally came to trial at Warwick Crown Court in July 2021, and on 2 and 3 August 2021, Butler was convicted of both charges. By pleading not guilty however, and refusing to face up to responsibilities for his crimes, he had perpetuated the suffering of both Alison and Julia, as they were required to attend the trial and give evidence about what he had done to them.

Butler is now due for sentencing at the beginning of next week (4 October 2021) and I trust that he will receive a lengthy prison sentence, properly reflective of his shameful abuse of public office for his own sexual gratification and the harm that he caused to both Julia and Alison’s mental health as a result.

Superintendant Daf Goddard, head of Warwickshire PSD, had these words to say after Butler’s conviction-

“Butler used his position of trust to take advantage of a vulnerable woman and attempted to take advantage of another vulnerable woman.

People often come into contact with Police when they are at their most vulnerable and it is important that our communities trust they will not be taken advantage of.

I hope the public are reassured by the action we took when these offences came to light and that Butler has been brought to justice. I would like to thank the two victims in this case for bringing Butler’s offending to our attention and supporting the investigation and trial. I hope they take some comfort from this conviction.”

What I would like to say in response to that, on behalf of both Julia and Alison, is that my clients don’t want “thanks” from the Police; rather what they, and the public at large, deserve is an apology from a Policing profession which has for far, far too long been failing to Police itself and root out the abusers and criminals in its own ranks. Why did the responsibility fall upon Julia and Alison’s shoulders to “bring Butler’s offending to [Police] attention”? The man had served with the Force as an officer for over 30 years, before then retiring and becoming a CID investigator; did none of his Police colleagues through those long decades have any awareness of his true character and predilections? Were Alison and Julia really his first victims? Did none of the trained investigators of crime working alongside Butler on a daily basis have any suspicions about him and his behaviour (often committed whilst he was on duty)?

Or did they look the other way?

It is only in providing honest answers to those questions, that Warwickshire, and the Police profession as a whole, can genuinely begin to win back the trust of our communities.

My clients’ names have been changed.

Author: iaingould

Actions against the police solicitor (lawyer) and blogger.