Former Boyle deputy sentenced to nine years in prison for abuse of arrestees

Published 2:30 pm Wednesday, July 3, 2024

On June 20, former Boyle County Sheriff’s Deputy Tanner Abbott, age 31, was sentenced to 110 months, or about nine years, in prison for abusing the constitutional rights of multiple people he arrested during his time as a sheriff’s deputy, according to a press release by the U.S. Department of Justice.

“This defendant habitually and routinely abused his authority and used his badge to shield himself from accountability for years,” said Justice Department Civil Rights Division Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke. “This sentence should send a loud message that such abuses by law enforcement will not be tolerated. The Justice Department is steadfast in its commitment to hold law enforcement accountable when they violate the civil and constitutional rights of people in their country.”

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At the sentencing hearing, evidence was presented that Abbott had a pattern of abuse of authority throughout his career. Evidence showed that Abbott routinely used excessive force against suspects. His phone was found to have multiple text messages in which Abbott gloated about injuries caused to people he had arrested. He sometimes used vulgar or graphic language to describe his victims. It was found that at times he had taken photographs of injuries, which were sent to friends and acquaintances, but he did not submit them in official reports.

The court also found that Abbott obstructed justice during his trial by testifying falsely in his own defense.

In March, a federal jury in Lexington found Tanner Abbott guilty of serious criminal charges, including criminal civil rights violations and obstruction of justice.  Abbott was found guilty of four counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, one count of conspiracy, and one count of falsification of records within federal jurisdiction. He was, however, found not guilty of one count of deprivation of rights under color of law.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Dembo for the Eastern District of Kentucky and Trial Attorney Alec Ward of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section prosecuted the case.