Virginia Police Officer Sentenced to 2 Years on Sex Charges Involving Minors

Jeffrey Mark O’Brien

AMHERST, Virginia – A Madison Heights man and former Liberty University police officer was sentenced to two years in jail Friday after entering Alford pleas in a sexual battery case involving two minor girls in Amherst County.

Jeffrey Mark O’Brien, 57, was scheduled for a jury trial next Wednesday in Amherst County Circuit Court but said in court Friday he was entering Alford pleas in his best interest. An Alford plea means he does not admit guilt but acknowledges prosecutors have enough evidence to convict.

O’Brien was arrested in January 2017 and accused of three counts of aggravated sexual battery in incidents from January 2015 to January 2017 involving two girls ages 14 and 11, the Amherst County Sheriff’s Office said at the time of his arrest.

In accordance with a plea agreement, prosecutors reduced the charges to three counts of sexual battery, a Class 1 misdemeanor. Judge Michael Garrett sentenced O’Brien to three years behind bars and suspended one year.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Amber Drumheller said the sexual abuse took place in his Madison Heights home. She said on three separate occasions over a two-year span he made inappropriate contact with the victims.

Drumheller said both children since have sought therapy and suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“They are both doing remarkably better than when this happened,” Drumheller told Garrett.

The commonwealth would like O’Brien to serve the rest of his life in prison for the offenses, Drumheller said, adding it does not want that to outweigh the mental health and stability of the two victims.

Drumheller said the commonwealth believes the plea agreement is the best option for keeping the children safe. It also keeps them from having to testify in court, she said.

O’Brien did not speak in court except to answer questions from the judge. In response to a question, he said he did not want to risk the outcome of a jury trial.

At a bond hearing days after his arrest in early 2017, O’Brien outlined in court his career in law enforcement, starting with serving approximately 25 years as a Virginia State Police trooper. In those years, he testified at the time, he operated as a field trooper in tactical, crash reconstruction and as a canine handler.

He started working with the Liberty University Police Department in 2014 after his retirement, he previously testified.

Garrett also ordered O’Brien to pay $450 in restitution and register as a sex offender upon his release. O’Brien, who previously was released on bond, is ordered to begin serving his sentence at the Blue Ridge Regional Jail at 9 a.m. April 30.