A rookie Maryland cop fired and arrested earlier this month for the alleged rape of a woman held in custody in a Kohl’s parking lot was struck with a 50-count indictment outlining allegations of further predatory traffic stops, false detainments and sexual assaults of a total of five victims.
Steven Victor Abreu, fired from the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office after less than a year of employment, was indicted Monday by a grand jury charging the 30-year-old ex-deputy with committing a series of criminal offenses against five separate victims in the months of September and October 2022.
Abreu is accused of using his position as a deputy to sexually assault women while on duty. The 50-count indictment includes nine counts of rape in the first degree and fourteen counts of misconduct in office. It identifies five alleged victims, named only by their initials JA, as well as victims TS, AW, SD, and JJ
Abreu was arrested and initially charged earlier this month for the alleged rape of JA, a 27-year-old woman, in the parking lot of a Kohl’s department store on Oct. 26.
MARYLAND COP ARRESTED OVER IN-CUSTODY KOHL’S LOT RAPE ALLEGEDLY HAD MORE VICTIMS, HISTORY OF MISCONDUCT
In that incident, the deputy allegedly pulled up behind JA and a male friend, detaining them both. After letting the male friend go, Abreu is accused of telling the woman to write down her phone number and get out of the car.
The deputy proceeded to “frisk” her, grabbing her buttocks and breasts without consent, and digitally penetrated her, the complaint says. When her friend called to check on her, the woman, “fearful of what would happen if she did try to run away or fight him,” told the deputy she had kids at home waiting on her, the complaint says.
Over the next several days, Abreu allegedly called and sent the woman text messages of a sexual nature – which she deleted and blocked – before ultimately pulling her over for a traffic stop on her way home from work.
He allegedly grabbed onto her face and jawline, commenting how the bruising on her neck from the initial assault had subsided and warned her not to tell anyone of their encounter. Fearful he’d come after her again, the woman said her fiancé drove her to and from work the next day. The fiancé noticed a sheriff’s department vehicle waiting outside the place of the woman’s employment drive off when he started to record it.
The woman, “visibly shaken,” came into the sheriff’s office to lodge a formal complaint and was interviewed on camera on Oct. 30, prompting the investigation that led to Abreu’s arrest on initial charges of second-degree rape, fourth-degree sexual offense, second-degree assault, false imprisonment, sexual contact while a person is in law enforcement custody and three counts of misconduct in office following an internal investigation.
After the arrest, Fox News Digital exclusively reported that Abreu had about a half dozen more alleged victims who came forward as the sheriff’s department continued its internal investigation.
A law enforcement source who spoke to Fox News Digital condemned the sheriff’s office for keeping Abreu on the force despite documented warning signs and his facing prior disciplinary action.
Abreu improperly groped a female during a lesson on holds at the training academy, but he reportedly corrected his form once instructed of protocol to use the back of his hands. He passed a background check, completed 26 weeks of training at the academy and another 10 weeks of ride-alongs with a supervisor before beginning solo patrols on Aug. 25. Yet in the following weeks, Abreu was docked days for turning off his camera during a traffic stop on a woman with whom afterward he exchanged provocative text messages back and forth with.
The deputy was also disciplined for letting a friend at a motel, allegedly with a reputation for being embedded with drugs, drive around the parking lot in his marked sheriff’s department vehicle.
The source claimed a captain issued a warning but was hesitant to fire Abreu due to department staffing shortages, commenting “because no one wants to be a cop anymore.”
Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis initially announced Abreu’s termination and arrest but claimed to local news outlets that there had been no warning signs regarding the rookie cop.
Fox News Digital, therefore, interviewed Lewis regarding the source’s allegations that the sheriff was derelict in his duty to stop a predator. Lewis admitted that Abreu “didn’t wow anybody, and we didn’t select him the first time” when interviewed for the job, “but he came back.”
“He showed us that he really wanted to be a deputy. He passed everything, but he didn’t wow us,” Lewis told Fox News Digital of Abreu. “But guess what he had that most applicants don’t? He was a minority. And I’m always looking for greater diversity within the rank and file in my office because I’m under the gun like any chief or any sheriff to hire more diversity.”
The sheriff further discussed how the fallout of the defund police movement has resulted in agencies “bleeding” for personnel and having to lower their standards when trying to recruit.
“I’ve always loved this profession like no other. But right now, our rank and file, we are demoralized,” Lewis told Fox News Digital. “Because Maryland lawmakers have practically legislated us out of a job, no one wants to come into Maryland law enforcement anymore. Our rank and files are shrinking all over the nation.”
“It’s very difficult to recruit good quality candidates,” he added. “So, what do we find ourselves doing? Hiring people that didn’t wow us during the interview. But we need warm bodies on patrol still in these vacancies that we have within our agencies. And inevitably, what does that do? It lowers our standards. This is how individuals are able to get through the cracks.”
Weeks ago, Lewis told Fox News Digital he expected additional charges to come against Abreu.
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When contacted Wednesday regarding the 50-count indictment, Lewis wrote, “Our comprehensive investigative report was submitted to the State’s Attorney’s Office for Wicomico County.”
“Consequently, testimony was presented before a Wicomico County Grand Jury on Monday, November 28th which led to the indictment,” he said. “This case is now in the hands of our local prosecutor’s office. Any further comment regarding this case must now come from Madam State’s Attorney Jamie Dykes or a designee from her office.”