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LAPD Commander Denies Raping Officer

March 11, 1994|JOHN L. MITCHELL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Los Angeles police commander, accused by a subordinate officer of rape, testified Thursday that his encounter with the officer was mutually enjoyable sex between consenting adults.

The high-ranking officer said his accuser had in fact pursued him. He said she set up the March 31, 1992, meeting in his Westchester apartment during which they had sexual intercourse.

In a federal lawsuit against the city and the commander, the officer accused him of raping her after inviting her to his apartment under the pretext of offering advice. Her suit alleges that her civil rights were violated.

On Thursday, the commander, who was cleared by an internal police tribunal of any wrongdoing and remains on duty, was firm in his reply when asked whether he raped the officer.

"Absolutely not!" the commander said. "I would not rape (her) or any other woman."

The Times is not publishing the names of the officer and the commander she has accused. It is the newspaper's policy generally not to name alleged victims of sexual assault.

The commander, 58, said he met the officer, 34, when he answered one of numerous anonymous calls she made to his office seeking advice about her marital and career troubles.

"There was no trauma in her voice," he said. "She was very cavalier; she was not upset."

After a couple of initial conversations, he said, the officer identified herself. The commander said she told him that she "loved talking to him" and that she "loved" to hear the sound of his voice.

She asked to meet, the commander said. He suggested Denny's, he said, but she said, "I'm not hungry, I don't want to eat."

The commander said he was hesitant to suggest meeting at his apartment, but he did.

"Instantly, she said, 'That will be great.' "

He said they met at his apartment, where they talked for more than an hour on the couch.

She touched his hand briefly, and he said he could see there was a "personal interest" developing. They moved closer on the couch, he said, starting to "caress each other's bodies." They embraced and kissed, he said.

Finally, he said, they went to the bedroom.

The commander said the officer was "very passionate."

The officer contends that he forced her to have sex, telling her: "This won't take long, I'm an old man."

The commander denied making the remark and said she was a willing participant who did not want to leave the apartment when they finished.

The next day, he said, she left "about six messages" on his machine, calling to say she was thinking about him.

The Police Department's internal affairs section began its investigation into the charges in November, 1992, after the officer told her immediate supervisors she had been raped. Her supervisors testified that she told them the commander raped her at a time when she was vulnerable and emotionally troubled.

Since the incident, she said, she has been hospitalized four times for depression and attempted suicide. Her medical bills are more than $90,000, the officer has said. She has been on disability since reporting the incident.

Final arguments are expected today.

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