When Vandalia police questioned Phillipsburg police officer Justin Sanderson this month about accusations by two women who accused him of rape, he said he was trying to stop them — and other women he met at hotels across Montgomery County — from prostitution.
MORE: Phillipsburg officer resigned after Vandalia arrest, release
The 32-year-old’s statements to the Vandalia police are similar to a response he gave the Grandview Medical Center Police Department, his former employer, in December 2014, when top brass there confronted him about an alleged incident involving a prostitute while he worked for them.
MORE: Ex-Phillipsburg cop was suspended for porn at juvenile courts job
Sanderson’s arrest on July 6 brought a spotlight on his law enforcement career in which he served in three jobs but was fired or resigned from each one for inappropriate behavior, according to a review of his personnel records at his previous employers.
Because of the findings, officials in the village of Phillipsburg are now changing their hiring process for potential village employees.
Sanderson has not been charged in the Vandalia investigation and Montgomery County prosecutors say Vandalia police are still investigating.
Multiple attempts to reach Sanderson by telephone and email were not successful.
Sanderson’s first job in public service was with the Montgomery County Juvenile Detention Center, where he received a three-day suspension in 2009 for using the court administrator’s Internet account on two days in July.
After abruptly resigning from the Juvenile Detention Center in August 2013, he joined the Dayton Police Academy in March 2014. Supervisors at the academy said he showed “a pattern of doing the bare minimum and a disregard of established rules,” according to records reviewed by this newspaper.
He was investigated at the academy for asking a female recruit and another male recruit if they were “making love” during a training exercise. Decisions on how to handle the incident reached the highest levels of the Dayton Police Department, according to department records. He was given an employee counseling form documenting instruction he was given to not make similar comments again. Sanderson apologized.
After running late to class twice — a violation of the academy’s attendance policy — Sanderson was discharged as a police recruit, according to Dayton police records.
Still, he passed the basic state standards to certify him as a police officer. He received a certificate certifying his completion of the Ohio Peace Officer Basic Training Program on Nov. 6, 2014.
A few days earlier, on Oct. 20, 2014, Sanderson started a two-month stint as an officer at the Grandview Medical Center Police Department, which provides services to several Kettering Health Network hospitals.
In December 2014, Sanderson was accused of showing pictures of his genitals to female hospital employees. An internal investigation found “substantial reliable evidence … Sanderson showed or asked to show inappropriate photographs to three female employees of his erected penis next to an aerosol can.” He denied the accusations, but resigned.
It was during that time when an investigation by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department found that a woman working as a prostitute claimed a Grandview police officer had taken her into his car.
A December 2014 internal memo from Grandview police, obtained by the Dayton Daily News through a records request, shows the Dayton woman — working as a confidential informant for the sheriff — identified Sanderson with “100 percent confidence” as the police officer who called her into his car, pulled out his pistol and flashed his badge.
She “waited patiently” for a backup officer to arrive because she assumed it was an undercover sting. Instead, she said, Sanderson told her, “You know you can be arrested for this and the next time I see you, I’m going to arrest you,” according to the memo.
He then let her exit the vehicle and drove off.
Turning in his uniform days later, Sanderson told Grandview Chief Dave Miller that the incident with the prostitute wasn’t a solicitation for sex, but part of his attempt to start a non-profit to help drug users and prostitutes get off the street.
Ten months later Sanderson applied for a job at the Phillipsburg Police Department.
He was working for G4S, a security firm, at that time. The local manager of G4S, Mark Wysong, also serves as the Phillipsburg chief of police.
In his application for a job with Phillipsburg, Sanderson listed the name of a reference at Grandview police, but no one at the village called the reference before Sanderson was hired in October 2015, according to attorneys for Kettering Health Network and Phillipsburg.
That reference, a Grandview police major, had joined with a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office detective to personally interview the confidential informant prostitute who alerted police to Sanderson’s behavior.
Jason Treherne, the village of Phillipsburg’s attorney, said he does not know why Phillipsburg police did not call the Grandview reference before hiring Sanderson. Village personnel, including Wysong, have referred questions on the matter to Treherne.
“The village is in the process of changing its hiring processes in an effort to make sure nothing like this happens again,” Treherne said. “That’s something that council will be dealing with specifically, and I can’t comment on what changes they will actually implement at this time.”
None of the incidents uncovered by the Dayton Daily News were disclosed or accurately depicted on Sanderson’s 2015 application to the Phillipsburg Police Department.
“We do comply if we receive requests and authorizations for queries from other police departments,” said Joseph Feller, chief legal counsel for Kettering Health Network. “I can tell you, on this we did not receive a query from Phillipsburg.”
Sanderson’s accuser in the recent Vandalia case, a 35-year-old female, told Vandalia and Dayton police she and a friend set up a meeting at the Knights Inn hotel, 7563 Poe Ave., with a person they met on Backpage, an online classified advertising website. The internet user — known online as “slickjohnson” — arranged for sex at $80 per female, according to police records. The user sent a picture of his face.
The trio met June 28 at the Knights Inn, where the man was allegedly dressed in a full police uniform with a gun. The accuser later told police she thought he was an Ohio State University police officer, and his name badge said “S. Anderson.”
The accuser said the police officer claimed to be “investigating human trafficking and prostitution,” the report said.
“The unknown suspect felt them up underneath their dresses,” the report said. “He told them to delete their Backpage ad. After searching them he left.”
Then, the accuser said, the police officer came back and asked for sex. The women said they performed oral and vaginal sex with him. The police officer used a condom, threw it out, but the second accuser kept it and later provided it to police, reports said.
MORE: Local police officer arrested for allegedly raping two women while in uniform
After viewing a video identifying the unknown police officer and the Phillipsburg cruiser as belonging to Sanderson, Vandalia police set up a July 6 meeting with Wysong to discuss the accusations against his officer. Wysong told Vandalia that Phillipsburg was not involved in any type of human trafficking or prostitution investigation.
“As Chief Wysong was at our headquarters, I was notified by officers and dispatch that Officer Justin Sanderson was at the Knights Inn currently,” wrote the investigating Vandalia officer, who left the interview and went to the scene.
A Vandalia officer had seen Sanderson’s police cruiser in the Knights Inn parking lot. Sanderson, who had been in the lobby, met him in the parking lot.
“Sanderson said he was just trying to make his own investigation and he was not working with our agency or any other agency,” the investigating Vandalia officer wrote. “Sanderson said he was bored in Phillipsburg and there is nothing to do but traffic enforcement.”
At the station, Sanderson gave a DNA sample and was advised of his Miranda rights. He agreed to talk, reports said.
“Sanderson would only tell us that he had taken it upon himself to investigate human trafficking without anyone knowing,” the officer wrote. “Sanderson admitted to going to several hotels to meet with prostitutes.”
In all, Sanderson told officers of one such investigation in Huber Heights, three in Vandalia, one in Harrison Twp., and others in Montgomery County. He said he never touched any of the women sexually.
“Sanderson would not provide any further information and the interview ended,” the officer wrote. “Sanderson was taken into custody and taken to the Montgomery County Jail.”
He was released days later, pending further investigation, at the request of the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office.