Saturday, September 24, 2011

Women testify in police officer sex case hearing (San Diego, Califaztlan)

 — A woman testified Monday that a police officer made inappropriate comments to her and put his hand down her pants in October when he stopped her in the Gaslamp Quarter purportedly on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.
The woman, who was 30 at the time, said she had just pulled her car out of a parking spot on Fourth Avenue near Island Avenue and began to drive, when a man she came to know as Officer Anthony Arevalos contacted her.
“He thought I was sitting at the stop sign too long,” the woman testified in San Diego Superior Court.
What followed was a nearly two-hour encounter during which the officer repeatedly asked the woman to get out of the car and to agree to take a breath-test to measure the alcohol in her system. She said she declined to do either.
The woman said the officer then asked whether her breasts were real and if she had modeled or participated in any wet T-shirt contests. At some point during the conversation, he said he would let the woman go if she showed him her breasts.
She said she eventually lifted her top and “flashed” the officer.
The woman was the first to testify Monday at a preliminary hearing for Arevalos, 40, an 18-year veteran who was fired from the San Diego Police Department in April after he was accused of stopping several women for traffic violations, then promising to let them go in exchange for sexual favors.
In some incidents, he is accused of touching or groping the women.
Arevalos was charged in March with 18 felony counts, including sexual battery, assault and battery by an officer, asking for a bribe and false imprisonment. The charges involved five alleged victims.
On Monday, Deputy District Attorney Sherry Thompson filed four more charges for similar conduct involving three additional women.
The alleged offenses date back to August 2008, according to the criminal complaint.
At the end of the hearing, which is expected to last at least two days, Judge John Einhorn will decide whether enough evidence exists for the case to proceed to trial.
Arevalos, who is free on bail, has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he could face a prison term of more than 20 years, the prosecutor said.
Four women testified Monday that they had run-ins with Arevalos, who stopped them for various reasons, such as suspicion of DUI or for invalid vehicle registration. The San Diego Union-Tribune is not identifying the women because they are named as victims in a sex-crime case.
Defense lawyers Jan Ronis and Gretchen von Helms questioned each of them about whether they had been drinking before the officer stopped them. Some said they had.
One woman, a nursing student, admitted to offering Arevalos money in January 2010 if he agreed to let her go. He declined the money, she said, but asked what else she could offer that was “out of the books.”
The first witness testified that she felt "upset" when Arevalos stood in the open doorway of her Honda Civic during the Oct. 22 incident and asked her questions about her body. She said he brushed his hand against one of her breasts as he held the breath machine close to her body.
“He said, “Can you feel that? Does it feel good?’” she testified. She said she responded, “Actually, no. It kind of hurts,” and the officer backed off.
Moments later, he stuck his hand into her low-rise jeans, making contact with her bare skin. She said she told the officer she would leave her car and take a taxi home if he would let her go.
Eventually, the officer flagged a cab, she said.   ~

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