An Orlando, Florida, police officer is accused of sending harassing text messages and calling a woman, posing as her reported stalker, police said a statement released on Oct. 20.
Douglas Bates was fired on Oct. 19 after an internal investigation determined he violated Orlando Police Department regulations, WFTV News reports.
In April, a woman received a handwritten letter from a man who claimed to watch her at night. She discussed the matter with a friend, who is allegedly a friend of Bates. Bates then posed as the woman's alleged stalker and in doing so, violated public trust, according to the OPD investigators.
The former officer allegedly called the victim and sent 10 texts over 38 days.
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"I can't even imagine," Chuck Drago, a law enforcement expert, told WFTV. "I don't know what would make a person do that."
The woman believed the man who was harassing her was Arnold Lamont Matthews, a registered sex offender. Bates sent messages accusing the woman of "playing hard to get" and asking if she was downtown because he could see her.
"I can't imagine how an officer could think that is funny and how it's OK to play those sorts of pranks on crime victims," Drago said.
According to Bates' termination letter, the former officer gave the woman the address belonging to the reported stalker.
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"[Y]ou willingly tried to send an innocent victim to an unknown location and put her in harm's way by trying to send her to an apartment where a sexual offender resides," termination letter read. "This action by you does not portray the professionalism that one would suspect [sic] from an Orlando police officer."
Due to Bates' actions, the woman reportedly had to seek medical help for anxiety and panic attacks and borrowed a friend's stun gun.
"Orlando Police Officers are trained in ethics and criminal statutes of the State of Florida ... Stalking, by statutory definition or not, is something that creates fear," the OPD wrote in a statement on its website. "The repercussions that could be created by this kind of behavior should have been clear to someone with Bates’ training."
In Bates' response letter to the internal affairs investigation, he claimed he was only joking.
"The only choice the police department has is to terminate him," Drago said. "He has no business being a police officer."