HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. — Former North Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper Michael A. Steele will spend at least six years and 10 months in jail for making unwanted sexual advances on women during traffic stops.
Superior Court Judge R. Allen Baddour on Tuesday sentenced Steele to between six years and 10 months to eight years,10 months.
Steele pleaded guilty in April to 10 charges, including kidnapping, extortion and sexual battery. He faced a maximum sentence of nearly 36 years in prison.
“I think it’s appropriate for a case like this that the sentence was as stiff as it was,” said Alan Doorasamy, the victim’s attorney.
Steele resigned last September after three women complained that on separate occasions in August, the then-highway trooper forced them to get into his patrol car and then kissed, touched or fondled them. The women said he threatened to arrest them or notify immigration authorities if they didn't comply. All three women are Hispanic.
Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said Steele targeted women he thought were Hispanic and in the country illegally so they would not report him.
According to indictments, Steele allegedly threatened to turn another woman over to immigration authorities "with the intent wrongfully to obtain physical contact, through kissing and touching of her breasts."
Steele had been with the North Carolina Highway Patrol since April 2004 and patrolled in Orange County.