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South Bend Police Department officer pleads guilty to child seduction of 16-year-old girl

South Bend Police Department

A South Bend Police Department officer has pled guilty to one felony count of child seduction related to an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old girl under a deal with prosecutors.

Timothy Barber was arrested in October 2021 and charged with six felonies, including two counts of child seduction, after a 16-year-old girl told investigators that they had multiple sexual encounters.

According to court documents, Barber met the 16-year-old at her workplace in July 2021 and asked for her phone number in uniform. He allegedly had sex with her two times in his squad car while in uniform, and also allegedly exposed himself to the girl two times while she was at work.

The girl’s parents later found communications with Barber on her phone and contacted police. When interviewed, she told police that she felt Barber was “obsessed” with her and felt pressure to have sex with him because he was a police officer.

She also told police that when she discussed her age with Barber, he allegedly said he looked it up “in the books” and discovered there was nothing wrong with him having sex with a 16-year-old.

On Thursday, Barber pled guilty to one count of child seduction, a level 6 felony, and one count of official misconduct, a level 5 felony.

According to a press release from the prosecutor's office, the plea agreement caps any sentence at four years. The remaining charges will be dismissed at sentencing, which is scheduled for Aug. 30.

The agreement was developed, the release says, in consultation with the victim and her family, and eliminates the need for the victim to testify.

It’s likely Barber will now lose his job — in an October Facebook post just after he was arrested, SBPD Chief Scott Ruszkowski said Barber would be fired if found guilty. He’s been on administrative leave without pay since October.

According to an old post on the SBPD's Twitter, Barber graduated from the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in May 2019 and was sworn in to the department the next month.

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Jakob Lazzaro comes to Indiana from Chicago, where he graduated from Northwestern University in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and a double major in History. Before joining WVPE, he wrote NPR's Source of the Week e-mail newsletter, and previously worked for CalMatters, Pittsburgh's 90.5 WESA and North by Northwestern.