Marcellis Blackwell was indicted on 21 federal charges Wednesday
A one time police officer in St. Louis, Missouri is facing a federal investigation after being accused of sexually assaulting eight men he had detained or arrested over an eight-month period.
According to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Missouri, former North County Police cooperative officer Marcellis Blackwell — previously known as Willis Green Overstreet III — was indicted on 21 federal charges Wednesday accusing him of sexually assaulting the men between Nov. 8, 2022 and June 5, 2023.
The indictments include 16 counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, meaning to willfully deprive a person of a right to self-determination over one's body and five counts of altering records in a federal investigation.
North County Police Cooperative did not immediately return PEOPLE's request for comment.
Blackwell, 34, was accused in court documents of detaining and kidnapping eight men in separate incidents and turning off his body camera prior to fondling their genital areas while they were handcuffed, committing an act of abusive sexual contact.
The indictment also includes an accusation that Blackwell sodomized one detainee by digitally penetrating him in an act of aggravated sexual abuse.
None of the victim's names were released.
Following an initial investigation conducted by the North County Police Cooperative, the FBI St Louis Division began investigating the case.
“We are not investigating the violation Blackwell cited to detain his victims,” Jay Greenberg, special agent in charge of the FBI St Louis Division, said in his statement. “Our focus is on Blackwell’s alleged abuse of power to sexually assault his victims. Our goal is to bring justice to victims and to provide victim services.”
The press release notes that the motion, which seeks to have Blackwell held in jail until trial, claims he “victimized people he thought would be less likely to report his behavior.”
Marcellis was first arrested on June 7 in connection with one of the alleged victims, who claimed to officers Marcellis touched his genitals without his consent while his hands were cuffed behind his back while he was taken into custody on June 3.
At the time, Marcellis was charged with one count of sodomy or attempted sodomy in connection with the alleged incident, KSDK reported. While held on a $500,000, cash-only bond, he pled not guilty to the state charges, and resigned from the North County Police Cooperative.
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In a statement provided to KSDK then, Major Ron Martin said the North County Police Cooperative began an investigation into Marcellis as soon as it received the allegation. "We will hold all of our police officers and employees accountable for their actions," he noted. "These allegations are massively disheartening, but we can reassure the community we expect the members of this law enforcement agency to conduct their duties with diligence, transparency, professionalism and within the law."
From there, a reported seven more victims came forward, according to court documents. The alleged perpetrator's phone also contained videos of several more unidentified victims.
U.S. Attorney Sayler A. Fleming said in the statement, “We still have not identified all of the men who appear in recordings on the defendant’s phone and I’d like to encourage any potential victims to contact the FBI in St. Louis or the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”
“The conduct alleged in the indictment is unacceptable for anyone, but infinitely more so for a police officer and when it involves handcuffed, helpless victims,” concluded Fleming.
Online federal court records do not have an attorney listed for Blackwell. He hasn’t entered a plea yet, and has not made a first appearance.
FBI St. Louis has established a hotline for potential victims of Marcellis Blackwell to come forward with any information. Please call (314) 589-2682.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.
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