Milwaukee Police Officer Accused Of Illegal Strip Searches Gets Plea Deal


A judge has approved a controversial plea agreement involving a Milwaukee police officer who illegally stripped crime suspects and conducted cavity searches on them.

Officer Michael Vagnini faced 25 criminal charges for being at the forefront of a group of Milwaukee police officers accused of involvement with illegal searches of African-American men. Today in Milwaukee circuit court, Vagnini plead no contest to charges of misconduct in public office and strip search violations. Those could send Vagnini to prison for more than a decade.

But under a deal with prosecutors, Vagnini avoided sexual assault charges that could have forced him to register as a sex offender. Assistant District Attorney Miriam Falk defended the deal by saying some of the people searched did not want to talk with her or testify in court.

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“As terrible as it is for a child to have to testify or an adult woman to have to testify, I think that there are additional issues relating to menwho have to come in and talk about this, because it attacks the very ‘manhoodness’ that they feel was violated in the first place.”

Falk also said she worried that a jury would not have believed some of the victims who have criminal records.

Falk rejected a claim from one of the victims’ attorneys that the deal was an insult to African-American men who were strip searched because they were black. But Tory Lowe, who says he knows some of the victims, says Officer Vagnini should still be tagged with the sex offender label.

“The sex offender issue is a deep issue because this guy or whoever can just approach them once again, or whenever. You don’t know how long they’re going to put this guy away.”

Judge Jeffery Wagner will sentence Officer Vagnini later this spring.