Baton Rouge Police Officer Donald Steele turned himself into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison today. He’s charged with second degree kidnapping, felony malfeasance in office and misdemeanor sexual battery.
It comes after an arrest warrant was issued on Tuesday for Steele. The charges stem from accusations made against Steele for actions alleged to have occurred during a traffic stop near the LSU campus on June 23, 2021. The unnamed victim, 19, filed a complaint with BRPD Internal Affairs the next day.
According to the arrest warrant, a BRPD Internal Affairs investigator utilized GPS tracking data, which showed Officer Steele at the locations specified by the victim, to identify him as the accused officer. The investigator further verified that Steele was not supposed to be working the LSU area that night and had no official business patrolling that area. Evidence shows that he did not activate his body or dashboard cameras even though he was on duty.
The warrant states that two LSU officers, seeing Officer Steele with a pulled over vehicle, also stopped. According to Internal Affairs, those officers saw that Steele did not have his bar lights activated during the traffic stop, which would have triggered the dashboard cameras, and that he told them he was “out with his sister and everything was OK.”
The victim, who has positively identified Steele in a photographic lineup, alleges that he threatened her with arrest for DWI if she did not follow him to a more secluded location. The victim voice texted a friend, telling her that she had to follow him or he was going to arrest her. He led her to, what she described, as an abandoned warehouse, not far from the Hollywood Casino. BRPD is in possession of that text.
According to the warrant, once there, he allegedly made inappropriate sexual remarks to her, grabbed her breasts, forcibly kissed her and tugged at the waistband of her pants. He’s accused of asking her if she wanted to get into the backseat with him, but she said she had to go to work. She’s said to have left the area, and he began almost immediately texting her sexually graphic messages and stated he was coming to her apartment. According to the Internal Affairs investigator, GPS data corroborates the victim’s account and CCTV footage has been obtained that shows both the victim and Steele at the location in question.
Officer Steele, represented by Attorney Franz Borghardt, maintains that everything that occurred between him and his accuser was consensual.
Steele is currently on administrative leave from the Baton Rouge Police Department and a temporary restraining order, previously granted, has been extended through October 13, 2021.