As a Kansas City, Kan., police detective assigned to investigate sex abuse against children, John Hudson dealt with some of the most horrible and vile crimes imaginable.
It took a toll on Hudson — a toll that ultimately resulted in a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and his retirement from the police department.
And recently, a three-judge panel of the Kansas Court of Appeals ruled that Hudson is entitled to disability benefits because his PTSD prevents him from working as a police officer. The board of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System had earlier denied his benefits request.
Hudson was assigned to investigate child sex crimes in 2007.
He handled hundreds of cases, often being assigned a new case every other day.
But as the years passed, his mental and emotional health started to deteriorate, according to facts outlined in the appeals court ruling.
He began to experience vivid and terrifying nightmares involving his own children being victimized by some of the same criminals he investigated.
One suspect even told Hudson that he would get out of jail and come after Hudson’s daughter. That suspect had used a flashlight to sexually assault his own daughter and allowed his friends to molest her.
Hudson started thinking about beating and killing some of those suspects instead of questioning them.
To avoid taking on new cases, Hudson covered his patrol car’s vehicle locator with foil to jam the signal so he could not be located, and he would drive to his home, to friends’ houses, or to a friend’s business to avoid work.
His job performance declined so drastically that the department began an internal investigation that resulted in an ultimatum that he either face possible charges or retire.
He retired in December 2011.
“At the time of his retirement, Hudson had no idea his nightmares, desire to harm suspects, avoidance of work activities, and emotional difficulties reflected he was suffering from PTSD, as he thought PTSD was a condition that only affected war veterans,” according to the appeals court ruling.
It was only after seeking mental health help that was he diagnosed with PTSD.
But when he applied for disability benefits with the Kansas Police and Fireman’s Retirement System, a division of the Public Employees Retirement System, the retirement system’s board of directors denied his request.
Hudson appealed, and a judge in Shawnee County ruled in his favor.
Now the Kansas Court of Appeals has weighed in and also found that Hudson is entitled to those benefits.
“There is substantial evidence in the record Hudson was permanently unable to perform the duties of a police officer as a result of his PTSD,” the appeals court said in its ruling.
In its ruling, the court found that the testimony of three mental health professionals who personally saw and diagnosed Hudson outweighed the testimony of a single doctor for the retirement system who only reviewed his medical records.
Hudson’s claim also was supported by the affidavit of his department superior who said he was unable to perform the duties of a police officer, according to the appeals court.
“Here, the board’s decision was not supported by substantial evidence when viewed in light of the record as a whole,” the appeals court ruled. “The board made factual determinations in error resulting in an unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious decision.”