Ex-Phillipsburg cop indicted on sex charges: What’s really going on?

Justin Sanderson. CONTRIBUTED
Justin Sanderson. CONTRIBUTED

A former Phillipsburg police officer indicted Monday on 21 counts — including three counts of rape — turned himself in to the Montgomery County Jail.

MORE: Ex-Phillipsburg cop in custody after 21 count indictment

“The actions of the defendant are quite frankly disturbing and nauseating. This defendant used and abused his position of authority and trust in order to satisfy his own sexual desires,” Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. said, while lauding the Vandalia police department for their work on the case.

Sanderson could face life in prison if convicted, Heck said.

Here’s five things to know about what’s really going on with this story:

1. A total of four alleged victims have come forward

On July 3, two victims reported to Vandalia police that, on June 28, they met a male at Knights Inn in Vandalia through an online sex advertisement.

Because of news coverage, two additional victims then reported alleged crimes to Vandalia police:

• On May 20, a woman Sanderson stopped for a suspected OVI was taken to the Phillipsburg police station and forced to have sex with him, according to Heck. He then followed her home. Charges were never filed stemming from the suspected OVI.

• On June 3, another woman, sought on an outstanding warrant, was also taken to the police station and forced to perform sex acts and then released without charges, according to Heck.

Sanderson was initially arrested July 6 after a police officer spotted the same Phillipsburg police cruiser outside the Knights Inn.

» Phillipsburg officer resigned after Vandalia arrest, release

2. Sanderson said he was counseling prostitutes

When Vandalia police questioned Sanderson about the 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.

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, according to personnel records reviewed by the Dayton Daily News.

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 after allegations of inappropriate behavior, according to the newspaper’s review of his personnel records at his previous employers.

» Cop accused of rape said he was counseling prostitutes

3. Sanderson was discharged as a Dayton police recruit, but still became a police officer

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. 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, 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.

» Ex-Phillipsburg cop was suspended for porn at juvenile courts job

4. Sanderson worked for Kettering Health Network, but quickly left

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, 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.

During that time 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 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.

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.

» Local police officer arrested for allegedly raping two women while in uniform

5. Phillipsburg is still looking into ways to improve the village’s hiring process

None of the incidents uncovered by the Daily News were disclosed or accurately depicted on Sanderson’s 2015 application to 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.

Jason Treherne, the village of Phillipsburg’s attorney, said last month he does not know why Phillipsburg police did not call references at Grandview before hiring Sanderson.

Because of the Dayton Daily News’ findings, officials in the village of Phillipsburg are now changing their hiring process for potential village employees.

As of Tuesday, village leaders are still figuring out the best way to proceed.

“Hiring procedures remain under review,” Treherne said. “A committee is being formed to gather additional information and recommend modifications to the hiring procedures.”