KCK police officer accused of sexually assaulting cadet took plea deal, retired

A Kansas City, Kansas, police officer convicted of misdemeanor battery after he was accused of sexually assaulting a cadet who worked under him took a plea deal and retired from the department, police officials said in a statement Thursday.

Officer Steven Rios was initially charged with sexual battery last year. That charge carries a six-month prison sentence and a requirement to register as a sex offender for 12 years following conviction.

In December he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery and was given 12 months of probation. He will not be required to register as a sex offender.

The Star reported Wednesday that a lawsuit filed against Rios and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and KCK says the cadet was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Rios and that she was fired in retaliation for reporting his behavior.

KCK police denied the accusations in Thursday’s statement.

“The Department disputes the allegations made by the former employee,” the police department said in the statement. “The reason for her departure is a personnel matter and we will not comment further.”

Despite Rios’ conviction for battery, his Kansas Peace Officer certification is in good standing, according to Gary Steed, Executive Director of the Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training.

The cadet’s lawsuit was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Kansas. It said Rios’ harassment and assault began on her second day as a cadet and continued for nine months until another officer witnessed the conduct and reported it.

The cadet had refrained from reporting the assaults for fear of losing her job. The lawsuit says she was fired by Police Chief Terry Zeigler about a month after charges were filed against Rios.

The cadet is suing the Unified Government for sexual harassment and retaliation, and is suing Rios for violation of her right to bodily integrity.

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Katie Bernard covers Kansas crime, cops and courts for the Kansas City Star. She joined the Star in May of 2019. Katie studied journalism and political science at the University of Kansas.