Detroit lieutenant suspended, charged with sexual assault

Hani Barghouthi
The Detroit News

A Detroit police lieutenant on Friday was arraigned on sexual assault charges and suspended from the force without pay, authorities said. 

Lt. Willie F. Duncan, 47, was charged by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy in connection with the alleged sexual assault of a 39-year-old female DPD officer, the prosecutor's office announced in a press release Friday. 

Chris Graveline, director of the Detroit Police Professional Standards Section said at an afternoon press conference that Duncan, a 26-year veteran of the department, was arraigned Friday on one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct on allegations of "force or coercion to commit rape," a felony that can carry a sentence of up to 15 years in prison. 

Lt. Willie F. Duncan, who was charged with one count of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree and faces a maximum sentence of 15 years.

Previously, Duncan had been suspended with pay after initially being reassigned from his unit. 

The court ordered a $25,000/10% bond for Duncan, with a condition that he have no contact with the survivor.  

Detroit police on Friday noted Friday that two employees of the department have come forward with allegations involving Duncan. 

The first employee reported to former police chief James Craig on May 28 that Duncan had assaulted her at an off-duty social gathering a week prior, on May 21, said Graveline. 

Craig, in his last week as police chief, alerted the force's office of internal affairs which triggered two investigations, departmental and criminal. He assigned Duncan out of his unit, but Duncan opted to use leave days and didn't report to work before the then-incoming interim police Chief James White decided to suspend him with pay on June 8. 

Five days later, on June 13, the second allegation involving the 39-year-old officer surfaced. The woman claimed Duncan had assaulted her in her home on Feb. 20. Her claim led to the charges. 

White said the May 21 incident was still under investigation, and could result in additional criminal charges for Duncan. 

Director of the Detroit Police Department's office of Professional Standards Chris Graveline announces the arraignment and suspension of Lt. Willie F. Duncan after allegations of sexual assault involving a department employee.

"If your conduct does not support the privilege of being able to represent this department in this city with this badge, it is my responsibility to ensure that you don't wear one," said White.

Duncan's attorney Sam Bennett told The Detroit News Friday that his client maintains his innocence.

"Even though he knows this woman, he denies any of these allegations and that any of these incidents ever occurred," Bennett said. 

This is the second high-profile incident of alleged police misconduct this month for the department. 

On Aug. 5, another officer was suspended with pay pending an investigation into a video that surfaced on social media in which he appears to be punching an unarmed man in Greektown on Aug. 1.

White has said that the probe into how police handled those events also included allegations that supervisors reportedly violated multiple policies at the scene.

Findings of that investigation have not yet been made public.