According to TRIB Live, Leechburg Pennsylvania’s suspended police chief will remain incarcerated for the next seven weeks after pleading guilty to solicitating sex from an undercover agent posing as a 14-year-old girl. Michael Diebold pleaded guilty in the Common Pleas Court of Westmoreland County to felony charges of statutory sexual assault, attempted statutory sexual assault, unlawful restraint, and criminal use of a communications device.
As part of the sentencing, Diebold is barred from using social media and the internet unless for business, and is forbidden from having unsupervised contact with minors. TRIB Livealso reports that Diebold will have to register as a sex offender for the next 25 years. He will be officially terminated from his position as police chief in the coming weeks.
Cases involving persons in positions of power engaging in sexual misconduct are especially troubling and all too common. This year alone we have reported on police officers arrested in connection with a prostitution ring, a city mayor arrested on prostitution charges, a constable pleading guilty to promoting prostitution, and a district court judge pleading guilty to human trafficking charges. There is an inherit power imbalance at play during a commercial sex transaction which becomes exacerbated when the person paying for sex holds a position of power in the community. It makes it even more difficult for victims in these cases to speak up and continues to perpetuate the structural inequalities that allow commercial sexual exploitation to prosper.
We are glad Diebold was not able to sexually abuse any minors, and applaud the work of the arresting agency in getting him off the streets and ultimately out of his uniform. We hope authorities continue to focus their efforts on arresting persons who feel their own sexual gratification is more important than the general wellbeing and dignity of others.
All views expressed herein are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law or of Villanova University.