'Consistent in screwing up'
It is not unusual for people who leave the military to gravitate toward police work. The macho culture, the command structure and the discipline seem a natural fit. But if John Tessier rose through the ranks in the Army, he was a washout as a cop.
Tessier was in his mid-30s, a captain fresh out of the Army and living in Washington state, when he graduated in June 1974 from the King County law enforcement academy and found a job in the small town of Lacey, near Olympia. The job had its perks. It allowed him to portray himself as rescuer and hero -- particularly to women.
A marriage that produced a son and a daughter had fizzled. As a Lacey cop, he found his second wife, Laura.
She was a student at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma and came from money. Her father was looking for off-duty cops to moonlight as bodyguards. Newly single, Tessier jumped at the chance. It wasn't long before a romance blossomed.
They were married for three years but broke up, he said, "because I cheated on her."
By 1979, he was working for a much larger department in Milton, near Tacoma, where he continued to indulge his interest in the ladies.
Police Chief Harold Burton viewed Tessier as inept and insubordinate and fired him for tipping off a drug suspect. Tessier fought the case, prompting the chief to document his complaints in a letter to the city's lawyers.
The police station was constantly receiving calls from Tessier's bill collectors, Burton wrote, and he loudly told dirty jokes in restaurants during breaks.
And then there were the women.
"Five incidents have been brought to my attention involving local women, three of which were contacts made as a result of police involvement," the chief wrote. They included a woman Tessier arrested for drunken driving; she later moved into his apartment. Another woman called police about someone slipping obscene photographs through a window; Officer Tessier responded, and before long they had struck up a relationship. The chief said he personally had seen Tessier's car parked all night outside her apartment.
Tessier got involved with a third woman who worked for the city and was going through a divorce; the drama spilled over into loud barroom arguments with the woman's ex, the chief wrote. There also was the woman he brought to a town party: She had been arrested for prostitution.
And, Tessier took topless photos of a 17-year-old waitress "in a Playboy type pose."
"Tessier is not very well liked by his coworkers and several complaints have been received about his conduct from other police departments," the chief wrote. He added that Tessier's infractions weren't serious. "But," the chief said, "he is consistent in screwing up."
Tessier was reinstated, but it wouldn't last long. In just weeks, a teenage runaway would end his police career.
'They made me feel like dirt'
Michelle Weinman says she fled the wrath of her father and ran into the hands of a man who would abuse her in his own way.
She was 15. He was a cop.
CNN usually does not name the victims of sexual assaults, especially underage victims. But Weinman, now 46, agreed to tell her story on the record and to be photographed. She says stepping out from behind the stigma has helped her heal.
She'd lied about skipping detention at her high school on the outskirts of Tacoma, Washington, and knew her father would punish her. So she ran away. She was joined by a friend who knew a Milton policeman who said they could stay with him. The girls slept on a hide-a-bed in the living room of John Tessier.
He was in his 40s by then, but he wasn't playing the father figure. "He was as old as my own father, but he would try to be the cool guy," Weinman told CNN. He took her to the movies, out to dinner, to the mall. He taught her to drive in his squad car at a park overlooking the city. He let her work the lights and siren, and that was exciting. He made sure she stayed in school.
He bought her the first record album she ever owned, Joan Jett's "I Love Rock 'n' Roll." But first, he made her promise she'd be good.
He taught her how to dress and apply makeup. She thought that part of their deal was strange, but he was a police officer, so she trusted him.
"I was raised to fear God, trust police officers and respect teachers," she said.
Then came the massages: She'd lie on the floor while he moved his hands over her back.