Kent Police detective who sent 'sexually suggestive' messages to attempted rape victim including topless pictures is found guilty of gross misconduct
A police detective who sent 'sexually suggestive' messages including topless pictures to a victim of attempted rape committed gross misconduct, a panel has found.
Detective Sergeant Jonathan Pearce tried to enter into a sexual or emotional relationship with the woman, who he met on Facebook, the panel decided.
He now awaits a ruling on whether he will be sacked from Kent Police.
The long-serving officer, a father in his 40s, sent topless photographs to the vulnerable young woman and asked her about 'sugar daddy' arrangements.
The 'flirty' messages, detailed at the officer's misconduct hearing, came after she had told him she had been the victim of an attempted rape.
Hours after telling Det Sgt Pearce about the incident, the woman - identified only as Miss A - said to him 'you want me', the panel heard.
He replied: 'Maybe a little bit.'
Det Sgt Pearce claimed the messages he sent were 'light-hearted banter, never anything serious' and that he did not want a sexual relationship with her.
He said he was 'just trying to make her feel better about herself' and wanted to bring the alleged perpetrator to justice.
But a panel at Kent Police HQ in Maidstone on Tuesday concluded that his actions amounted to gross misconduct.
Panel chair Chiew Yin Jones said: 'The panel were satisfied that the officer, by attempting to enter into a sexual or emotional relationship with Miss A whilst believing or knowing she was a vulnerable person or victim of crime, clearly failed to act with self-control or treat her with courtesy.
'The officer was aware that Miss A was the victim of an alleged attempted rape when he sent her sexually suggestive messages.'
Det Sgt Pearce covered his face with his hand as the ruling was read out.
David Mesling, who brought the allegations against the officer on behalf of the police force, said that 'appropriate outcome' is dismissal.
Ailsa Williamson, defending Det Sgt Pearce, accepted his actions were 'very serious misconduct' but called on the panel to allow him to keep his job and instead issue a final written warning.
She added: 'There was no actual harm caused by the officer's misconduct to Miss A. The harm in this case really is to the reputation of Kent Police.'
The hearing continues.