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Find Out Why This Former Cop Accused of Child Porn Is in Solitary

Find Out Why This Former Cop Accused of Child Porn Is in Solitary

Do you think this is fair punishment?

Published April 28, 2016

Former Philadelphia Police Sergeant Francis Rawls has been in solitary confinement without charges for the past seven months because he has failed to decrypt hard drives that are connected to a child porn investigation. He has been accused of possessing child pornography but the former sergeant has a clean record and seemingly does not know the password for the hard drives in question. 

Rawls is being held in solitary for 22 hours a day, with just one 15-minute phone call a month due to failure to cooperate with the investigation. According to someone familiar with the case, Rawls is also being held in confinement because he fears for his safety due to his former job as a police sergeant. 

Rawls's legal team argues that that he has the right to not unlock his computer thanks to his Fifth Amendment rights to not incriminate himself. Rawls was arrested as a result of a sting that took place in early 2015. At the time of his arrest, Rawls reportedly told arresting officers that he had "encryption on his computer" and refused to supply them with a password.

In June 2015, a judge found an order to force Rawls to hand over the passwords unconstitutional, writing that he "has properly invoked the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination when indicating that he would neither perform the act of decrypting the electronic devices, seized by the Commonwealth, nor provide the passwords to the Grand Jury for the electronic devices." Following this ruling, the investigators went to a Federal court to use the All Writs Act to try and force Apple to unlock Rawls's iPhone.

The case is currently in limbo as investigators continue to find ways to decrypt the possibly incriminating files, while Rawls's defense fights to get their client out of solitary without violating his civil rights. 

For the foreseeable future Rawls will have to wait for a response to his appeal and will continue to be held in solitary despite the fact that he has yet to be charged with a crime.

Written by By Evelyn Diaz

(Photo: Moodboard/Corbis)

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