Linwood Barnhill, 48, a former officer with Washington D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) pleaded guilty June 20 to two counts of pandering (prostituting) of a minor and one count of possession of child pornography, law enforcement officials announced.
The 24-year veteran, who was attached to the Seventh Police District resigned before the hearing, entered the guilty plea in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia before Judge Rosemary M. Collyer.
“Linwood Barnhill betrayed his duty to protect the community by trying to exploit teenage girls,” said U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., who announced the plea agreement along with Valerie Parlave, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office and Cathy L. Lanier, MPD chief.
“As a result of his deplorable conduct,” Machen continued, “he will now be headed to prison to join the criminals he spent his career locking up. We appreciate the tremendous work of the MPD detectives and FBI agents who worked so hard to bring Mr. Barnhill’s betrayal to light.”
The AFRO previously reported that Barnhill was arrested on Dec. 3, 2013, when officers with the MPD’s Youth Investigations Division located a missing 16-year-old girl at his residence on the 3000 block of Stanton Road in Southeast Washington.
According to court documents, the officer had picked up the teenager at the mall, and, similarly, recruited a 15-year-old and 17-year-old at bus stops, offering them modeling jobs.
When the underage girls agreed, Barnhill took them to his apartment, where he cultivated them for prostitution, including taking clothed and unclothed photographs of them and, later, paying for new hairstyles and clothes.
Barnhill admitted to charging customers $80 for sessions with the girls. He said he kept $20 of each charge.
Investigators also found several other adult and juvenile females, who identified Barnhill as their pimp. The women allegedly said that Barnhill advertised their wares on Backpage.com, a website commonly used to post ads for prostitution.
Barnhill also had the 17-year-old perform oral sex on him, an act he video-recorded on his cell phone. That video was recovered from one of eight cell phones seized from the defendant’s residence under a search warrant. Officers also said they found marijuana and dozens of condoms in the apartment.
Barnhill’s case is one of several that shined a harsh light on D.C.’s police department late last year. Just two days before police carted Barnhill away, Marc Washington, 32, who also worked out of the Seventh District Precinct, was arrested on child pornography charges. Police said Washington took explicit photos of a runaway girl and they found several other lurid photos of girls and women on his phone. Washington’s body was retrieved from the Washington Channel Dec. 10, the day after he was released from jail while awaiting trial. His death was ruled a suicide.
Barnhill’s plea, this week, could help close that ugly chapter in MPD’s history.
“A person of this character has no business being a police officer,” said Chief Lanier. “This is a disgrace to the thousands of hard working men and women of the Metropolitan Police Department who have integrity and put their lives on the line each day.”
Under his plea agreement, Barnhill faces a prison sentence of seven years, and he will be required to register as a sex offender for at least 25 years. Collyer, who set a Sept. 4 sentencing date, has expressed some concern with the sentence’s brevity, however, and could make another determination.
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