Ex-Salem police officer found not guilty of rape, guilty of indecent assault

SALEM, MASS. (WHDH) - A former police officer charged in an incident involving a man in protective custody at the Salem Police Department has been found not guilty of rape but guilty of indecent assault.

Brian Butler, 57, was convicted Tuesday by a Salem Superior Court jury for indecently assaulting a 28-year old man on Halloween 2016 and sentenced to a minimum of three and a half years and a maximum of five years in state prison, Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett announced.

“Clearly changes in the law need to be made, but in the meantime, this verdict does provide some measure of accountability to the defendant and, hopefully, provides the victim with some solace,” Blodgett said. “The courage of this young man cannot be overstated. What happened to him was not his fault, and, as far as I am concerned, should be a crime regardless of any claims of consent.”

Brian Butler, 57, appears in Salem Superior Court

During trial, the victim told jurors that he was forced into a broom closet near the department’s booking area and raped by Butler.

“I felt powerless,” the victim said. “He was in a position of power.”

The victim was in protective custody after police were called to the Clipper Ship Inn because the victim was heavily intoxicated and had flooded his hotel room.

Essex Assistant District Attorney Kate MacDougall requested a four-to-five-year state prison sentence after introducing evidence that Butler reached under a blanket and touched the victim’s genitals without his consent, according to Blodgett.

Blodgett noted that the state attempted to prove that any apparent consent by the victim could not have been voluntary given that he was in police custody.

Butler was acquitted on the rape charge because the law, as it currently stands, does not specifically state that individuals in police custody cannot consent.

“What happened to him was not his fault, and, as far as I am concerned, should be a crime regardless of any claims of consent,” Blodgett said of the victim.

At the time of the incident, Butler was the husband of Salem Police Chief Mary Butler.

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