Ex-trooper sentenced for sex acts during traffic stops

He destroyed traffic tickets in exchange for sexual favors.

How the story developed

Our Columbus Bureau reporter Laura Bischoff has followed this story from the beginning. Here’s a quick look at key moments:

Jan. 2006: Trooper Bryan Lee joined the Ohio Highway Patrol.

Nov. 19, 2010: Lee responded to a car wreck involving victim “NS,” who failed field sobriety tests. Lee turned off his body microphone, groped NS’s breasts while she was handcuffed and rubbed his genitals against her. He drove her home and released her to her mother.

Nov. 21, 2010: Lee stopped “KD” for speeding and found she was driving without a valid license and had a warrant for her arrest. He told the male passenger to walk to the nearest rest stop. Lee groped KD’s breasts and cited her for traffic offenses but did not charge her for pills and drug paraphernalia found during the stop. Lee later stalked KD on Facebook, demanding naked pictures of her.

March 22, 2012: Lee cited “JE” for speeding and then pulled her over a second time because she was upset and crying. JE sat in Lee’s patrol car and allowed him to take a cell phone photo of her topless. Lee convinced her to drive to an abandoned gas station where they had sex. Lee then tore up the speeding ticket. JE and Lee later had a consensual relationship until she discovered on Facebook that Lee was married.

Sept. 8, 2013: Lee flirted with two women on a traffic stop. He turned off his mic, allowed the driver to drive despite showing signs of impairment, and put the passenger, “TF,” in his patrol car. He took a photo of himself touching TF’s breasts and later stalked her on Facebook. A month later, TF was again a passenger during a drunken driving stop by Lee. Lee ticketed the driver for misdemeanor violations and didn’t make a drunken driving arrest. TF walked home.

Nov. 4, 2013: Lee resigned from the patrol.

Oct. 29, 2014: Lee pleaded guilty to federal charges of cyberstalking and violating the civil rights of four victims.

April 9, 2015: Lee is sentenced in U.S. District Court to 60 months in federal prison.

Former state trooper Bryan D. Lee will spend 60 months in federal prison for having sex with, groping, photographing and stalking women he stopped on Ohio roads.

Two of the women where handcuffed and under arrest when the coercive sexual contact took place; Lee ripped up traffic tickets or didn’t cite them at all; and he stalked one victim on Facebook and followed her in public.

In some instances, Lee let motorists who appeared to be drunk drive off and endanger the public so he could satisfy his sexual urges, said U.S. District Court Judge Michael Watson.

Watson said Lee “utterly sullied the reputation” of the Ohio Highway Patrol and called his conduct “reprehensible crimes perpetrated by someone with a badge against young women who were helpless.”

Lee resigned from the patrol Nov. 4, 2013, pleaded guilty Oct. 29, 2014 and was sentenced Thursday on four misdemeanors counts of civil rights violations and one felony count of cyberstalking. After prison, he’ll be subject to three years of post-release supervision, which will include mental health and sex offender treatment, polygraph exams and monitoring software on any computers he uses.

Lee, 31, of Lancaster, declined comment.

Lee worked as a trooper in both the Granville and Lancaster posts from January 2006 to Nov. 4, 2013. The sexual misconduct incidents occurred between November 2010 and September 2013.

The U.S. Attorney’s office pushed for a 71 month sentence while Lee’s lawyers argued for probation. Lee told Watson that he is working in counseling on controlling his sexual impulses.

Lee’s sexual misconduct first surfaced in November 2010, when a victim identified as “NS” drove down an embankment. Lee responded to the scene, turned off his body microphone, groped NS’s breasts while she was handcuffed and rubbed his genitals against her. He eventually drove her home and released NS to her mother. Four months later, NS filed a complaint with the patrol against Lee.

But patrol investigators believed Lee over NS and referred her for possible criminal prosecution in April 2011 for false statements. The county prosecutor was willing to charge her for making false statements if Lee were interested in pressing charges. The result was Lee kept his job for another two-plus years, affording him the opportunity to victimize more women.

The patrol revisited NS’s allegations after evidence surfaced in October 2013 of Lee’s misconduct with another woman. NS, however, no longer wanted to cooperate with the patrol and only came forward to help once the FBI public corruption task force opened an investigation.

Lee is from a family of police officers: his dad is a retired highway patrol sergeant, two of his brothers are troopers and another brother is a Lancaster police officer. He is married and a father of three children under the age of 6. Family members wrote letters of support, saying he “is a good person who lacked the self-esteem, self-discipline and self-awareness necessary to abstain from acting on his sexual compulsions with women that he met in the course and scope of his employment with the Ohio State Highway Patrol,” according to court filings from Lee’s lawyer.

Family members sat in court behind Lee, holding hands and weeping during the hearing.

Lee had been reprimanded for other misconduct as well. On June 28, 2009, he turned off his body microphone during a traffic stop of two off duty police officers who were clocked going more than 100 miles per hour down Interstate 70, according to the patrol.