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Woman Files $5-Million Claim in Police Rape Case

December 11, 1986|KAREN ROEBUCK | Times Staff Writer

A Redondo Beach woman has filed a $5-million claim against Manhattan Beach, saying she was raped, assaulted and falsely imprisoned by former Police Officer Nigel Starkey.

Starkey, 30, was charged two months ago with rape under color of authority, unlawful sexual intercourse, oral copulation in a jail facility and soliciting a bribe. He has resigned after four years on the force and is free on $20,000 bail while awaiting a preliminary hearing Jan. 26 in Los Angeles Municipal Court.

Laura Diaz's claim states that "Starkey had on prior occasions committed similar acts" and that the city and Police Department failed to adequately investigate his background and "should have known of his propensity to commit violent acts."

Council to Get Claim

Jeffrey Hall, litigation manager for the law firm representing Diaz, would not elaborate on the claim.

City Atty. Carl K. Newton said the claim will be presented to the City Council but it "will be rejected, of course." Under state law, a claim for damages must be filed with the city before it can be filed in court.

Police Chief Ted Mertens declined to comment except to say that he does not know of similar allegations against Starkey or of any other members of the department who may have known about the alleged acts.

Mertens said he is reviewing jail policies and has reiterated department policy that when a woman in custody is being interviewed by a male officer, a female employee must be present. That policy was in effect when Diaz was arrested, but Starkey interviewed her alone, Mertens said.

Arrested for Forgery

Starkey arrested Diaz, 23, in September on felony charges of attempting to forge and cash a check. Deputy Dist. Atty. Herb Lapin said Starkey allegedly persuaded Diaz to have sex with him by promising to help get the charges reduced.

Diaz later complained to Torrance police, which led to an investigation by the district attorney's office and to Starkey's arrest.

Diaz pleaded no contest to two counts of forgery and three counts of petty theft--all misdemeanors--and was sentenced Nov. 20 to supervised probation, community service, a fine and $1,500 to $2,000 restitution, Lapin said.

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