LONDON — A London police officer has admitted raping and sexually assaulting a dozen women over nearly two decades, in a case described as "devastating" for the already frayed public trust in the force.
David Carrick, an armed officer who served with the parliamentary and diplomatic protection command and worked on the parliamentary estate, was charged with 49 offenses against 12 women over a period spanning 18 years.
At a previous hearing at the Old Bailey last year, the 48-year-old pleaded guilty to 43 offenses, including 20 counts of rape. On Monday, he entered further guilty pleas to four counts of rape, false imprisonment and indecent assault.
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Assistant Commissioner Barbara Gray, the Metropolitan Police’s lead for professionalism, apologized to Carrick’s alleged victims, describing him as a “prolific, serial sex offender.”
“He has had a devastating impact on the trust and confidence of women and girls that we are working so hard to earn,” she said in a statement. “He has devastated colleagues.”
“He used the fact he was a police officer to control and coerce his victims. We know they felt unable to come forward sooner because he told them they would not be believed.
“We should have spotted his pattern of abusive behavior and because we didn’t, we missed opportunities to remove him from the organization,” she added. Carrick met some of the women through online dating sites or on social occasions, using his position as a police officer to gain their trust, according to The Associated Press.
The details of Carrick's offenses were not made public until Monday under strict reporting restrictions in the U.K.
Monday's revelations were the latest high-profile blow to the capital’s trust in its police force, the Metropolitan Police. It follows the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard at the hands of Wayne Couzens, an elite officer also with the diplomatic protection command, which ignited a national conversation about violence against women and misogyny.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was “absolutely sickened and appalled” by the revelations.
“Londoners will be rightly shocked that this man was able to work for the Met for so long, and serious questions must be answered about how he was able to abuse his position as an officer in this horrendous manner,” Khan said.
Carrick was on police systems in relation to a number of off-duty incidents before and during his employment as an officer in 2001, none of which resulted in any criminal sanction at the time, the Metropolitan Police said Monday.
Carrick had come to the attention of police over nine incidents, despite being vetted on joining the Metropolitan Police in 2001, and again in 2017, the force said in a statement. It added that two of those incidents were not recorded in police systems.
A police spokesperson declined to comment on the record when approached for clarification by NBC News. The force said it had improved its systems, and that Carrick would have been flagged under current processes.
After he was arrested in October 2021, Carrick was immediately suspended from duty, police said.
Police have been working to repair ties with the community and restore trust among women after a string of cases that fueled concerns around sexual misconduct, misogyny and racism.
Earlier this month, one officer pleaded guilty to false imprisonment and assault of a woman in her 20s while off duty, and another officer was convicted of harassment of a female colleague.
Two officers were jailed in 2021 for sharing photos of murdered sisters Nicole Henry and Bibaa Smallman, and calling the sisters “dead birds” in WhatsApp messages.
Bibaa, who was Black, and Nicole, who was mixed race, were discovered in a London park by family members, who were left to search themselves. Their mother, Mina Smallman, believed the police did not search for her daughters because of racial profiling and classism — an accusation that the force denied.
A recent independent review of the Metropolitan Police's culture and standards of behavior, commissioned in the aftermath of the scandals, including the murder of Everard, said it uncovered systemic failings that have allowed too many “abhorrent” officers accused of sexual misconduct and domestic abuse to remain working.
Highlighting missed opportunities to spot repeated or escalating misconduct, the report by Dame Louise Casey said that between 2013 and 2022, 20% of officers and staff in the misconduct system had been involved in two or more cases, but fewer than 1% of those officers had been dismissed.
In a statement issued Monday, the Metropolitan Police said it had set up a dedicated Domestic Abuse and Sexual Offending investigation team to deal with officers or staff member engaged in domestic abuse or sexual offenses.
“Our work to identify and rid the Met of corrupt officers is determined and focused," Gray said.
Carrick has been remanded in custody, and will be sentenced at a hearing to take place at Southwark Crown Court beginning on Feb. 6.