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Convicted Rapist Faces Court on New Charge

May 12, 1985|TIM WATERS | Times Staff Writer

TORRANCE — A former Riverside County sheriff's deputy found guilty two years ago of sexually assaulting a teen-age girl is scheduled to be arraigned Monday on charges that he raped and robbed an elderly widow last month while the conviction was on appeal.

Rick Alan Gonzales, 31, is to appear in South Bay Municipal Court to enter a plea to charges that he raped the 65-year-old Torrance woman twice after wresting a handgun from her inside her home. Gonzales was arrested after the woman told police she recognized him as a former neighbor.

Gonzales is being held without bail at Los Angeles County Jail. He was arrested April 24 in Torrance, according to Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Judith Cohen. The woman had been attacked four days earlier.

The arrest was made less than three weeks before Gonzales was scheduled to begin a 10-year prison term for raping and kidnaping a 13-year-old runaway girl while on duty. Convicted in August, 1983, the former deputy had been free on $100,000 bail pending appeal. The appeal, however, was denied in March and Gonzales was to have surrendered to authorities last week, according to Richard Van Frank, a Riverside County deputy district attorney.

Deputy for 5 Years

Defendants whose appeals are denied are typically given 60 days before they must surrender, prosecutors said. Gonzales, who worked for the Riverside County Sheriff's Department for five years before being dismissed, was arrested in January, 1983, on suspicion of assaulting the girl. A jury subsequently found that Gonzales abducted the girl from a convenience store near her parents' home in December, 1982, drove her to a remote area and assaulted her in the back seat of his patrol car.

The jury found Gonzales guilty of rape, oral copulation, cruelty to a child, kidnaping and two counts of lewd acts with a teen-age girl.

John Barnett, a Santa Ana attorney representing Gonzales, said his client is seeking a new hearing before the trial court because of "newly discovered evidence," including statements made by the girl to friends recanting her testimony. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for late this month, he said.

At the same time, Barnett said, he has petitioned the state Supreme Court to review Gonzales' conviction. Among other items, the petition claims that some evidence was improperly admitted during the trial, and that there was a breach of attorney-client privilege, he said.

In the Torrance case, prosecutor Cohen said a man broke into the home of the woman about 3 a.m. through the kitchen door. The woman, hearing the intrusion, armed herself with her late husband's .22-caliber revolver, Cohen said.

Woman Wounded

Cohen said the intruder burst through the woman's bedroom door, and a struggle ensued over the gun. During the struggle, the gun went off and a bullet grazed the woman's neck, Cohen said.

The prosecutor said the intruder raped the woman twice, forced her to perform oral copulation and stole a small amount of cash before fleeing. The woman then contacted authorities and said she recognized the intruder as Gonzales, who had been a neighbor about seven years ago.

Bail for Gonzales was initially set at $100,000 after his arrest in Torrance. Two weeks ago, however, Cohen persuaded a South Bay Municipal Court judge to deny bail for Gonzales. The prosecutor argued that Gonzeles posed a threat to society and might flee rather than face prison.

Cohen said Gonzales is married and has a home in Riverside County.

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