Two veteran Officers, James Nichols, 44, and Luis Valenzuela, 43, have been arrested and charged with ”repeatedly raping four women over a three-year period. Mostly while on duty”, Fox News reports.
Prosecutors announced that:
Both men faced charges which include ”rape under color of authority and oral copulation by force. Valenzuela also is charged with pointing a gun at one of the women.
They could face life in prison if convicted.
One of the women, who acted as a drug-informant for the group said she was told ”You have to do what the police tells you to do”, during a federal court filing.
The nineteen-year-old also narrated how one of the officers acted as a lookout in the front-seat of a departmental car as she was forced to perform oral sex on his partner in the back seat.
Another woman, also a drug-informant, collaborated the teenager’s story, saying:
The same two officers each forced her to have sex with them twice after threatening her with jail time.
Two other women also came forward with similar stories bringing the total number to four.
At a news conference on Wednesday, Los Angeles Police Chief, Charlie Beck said:
”Both officers have been suspended without pay since 2013. Their employment status is pending an administrative hearing that would follow their criminal case.
These two officers have disgraced themselves, they disgraced this badge, they disgraced their oaths of office. It is a violation of public trust.
Investigators are actively seeking other potential victims.”
The officers denied all the claims in court records and were set to be arraigned on Thursday.
Prosecutors are asking that they both be held on bail of more than three-point-five-million dollars. The rapes began in December 2008.
Prosecutors said Nichols and Valenzuela were partners; working as narcotics investigators in the department’s Hollywood Division.
The four women had been arrested on various occasions for drug-related charged by both officers. Court records also show two were recruited as drug-informants by the officers.
According to LA Police Chief, Beck, the department’s internal affairs started investigating the officers after the first woman ”complained of being raped in 2010”.
In 2014, the department’s elite Robbery Homicide Division took over.
It took so long for the charges to be filed against the officers because the investigation was complicated and involved reluctant witnesses who were difficult to find.
An attorney representing two of the women, Dennis Chang, said:
The officers misused their positions by taking advantage of it by threatening the women with jail time or outing them as informants for sex.
These women were drug users, they’re primarily arrested and in custody, in an extremely vulnerable state. They were afraid.
The State of Los Angeles reported two similar cases last year where it agreed to pay one woman five-hundred-and-seventy-five-thousand dollars with the second case still being litigated.
Two civil lawsuits had been filed against both Officer Nichols and Valenzuela.
A third is expected to be filed.