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Veteran Officer Charged With Sexual Battery : Courts: Santa Ana Police patrolman Michael Cabrera faces allegations that he assaulted and falsely imprisoned a woman while he was on duty in January.


SANTA ANA — A 15-year veteran patrol officer with the Santa Ana Police Department was charged Friday with felony assault, sexual battery and false imprisonment of a woman he detained while on duty in January.

Michael Cabrera, 38, of Orange was ordered to appear in court on Monday for arraignment on the charges.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Camille Hall would not provide details of the incident, and the woman who made the complaint was referred to as "Jane Doe" in court papers. But according to one of the charges filed, Cabrera "unlawfully touch(ed) an intimate part" of the woman while she was being "unlawfully restrained" in what Hall described as "a field contact."

Another count charges that Cabrera "did willfully and unlawfully assault and batter Jane Doe under cover of authority and without lawful necessity."

Neither Cabrera nor his attorney, John Charles McCann, could not be reached for comment Friday.

If convicted of the three charges, Cabrera faces a maximum of four years in prison, Hall said.

Cabrera has been on paid, administrative leave for about a month, and will remain on that status until the Police Department's internal investigation is completed, Lt. Robert Helton said.

Helton said that a Santa Ana woman came to the department shortly after the Jan. 5 incident, which he would not describe.

"A complaint was made to the Police Department, and we handled the entire investigation," Helton said. "At a certain point in time we contacted the Orange County district attorney's office."

The department's internal investigation of Cabrera is unaffected by the filing of criminal charges by prosecutors, Helton said, and "is ongoing as we speak."

Santa Ana Police Chief Paul M. Walters has been monitoring the internal investigation, which might not be completed for some time because of the appeals process, Helton said. Possible disciplinary penalties are "up to and including dismissal," he said.

"It's an unfortunate situation," Helton said. "No law enforcement agency likes to see themselves in this kind of a situation. But when we have the types of allegations brought to our attention that we have had in this particular case, we have a legal and moral obligation to investigate them, no matter who is involved. That's clearly what we have done in this case."

Times staff writer Ken Ellingwood contributed to this report.

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