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Officer Accused in Pasadena Rape Turns Self In

June 14, 1996|JULIE TAMAKI and RICHARD WINTON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A Los Angeles police officer assigned to the Foothill Division surrendered to authorities Thursday on charges that he raped a woman last month in Old Pasadena.

The officer, Mark Mireles, 29, of Pasadena, is scheduled to be arraigned July 5 on charges stemming from the May 18 attack on the woman, a former baby-sitter for Mireles' children.

The charges stirred fears among some fellow officers that the case will renew the Foothill Division's image problems.

Pasadena Police Cmdr. Mary Schander said the attack occurred after the alleged victim ran into Mireles at a billiards parlor where she was celebrating her 21st birthday and he asked her to go for a walk about 1:45 a.m.

The woman, who had not seen Mireles for three years, agreed to the walk but panicked when Mireles led her to a secluded patio behind a business in the 100 block of E. Holly Street, where he allegedly began kissing her and subsequently forced her to have sex.

"The victim was very upset by the crime," Schander said. "She did not consent."

Mireles' attorney could not be reached for comment Thursday.

According to a police report, at one point the victim tried to yell for help, but Mireles allegedly clapped a hand over her mouth and said "he knew that this is what she wanted, what they both wanted."

Mireles then told the woman that she was free to go at any time, but she told police that each time she tried to leave Mireles would force her to sit down again, the report said.

Mireles then allegedly forced the woman to orally copulate him and then raped her, the report said. A security guard at a parking lot encountered the woman, in tears at a public telephone, and called police.

A Pasadena police officer who interviewed the woman described her as in "obvious mental and physical pain."

"It seemed as though [the victim] was attempting to withdraw inside herself to get away from the memory," the officer wrote in the police report. "Each question and answer brought forth a new wave of tears and embarrassment as she attempted to relate the cruel actions of Suspect Mireles."

When asked by the Pasadena officer why she did not fight Mireles to escape, the woman described Mireles as a martial arts master who could hurt her, according to the report.

The victim also told the officer that when she cared for Mireles' children as a teenager, he once told her that he enjoyed police work when the "gangbangers" got out of line because he could use his martial arts skills to make them "submit to his will."

A felony arrest warrant was issued for Mireles on June 4 and Mireles' attorney arranged for him to surrender three days later, according to Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office. But it was not until Thursday that Mireles, accompanied by his wife and three daughters, turned himself in at Los Angeles Municipal Court.

A judge set Mireles' bail at $200,000, which the officer posted, Gibbons said. The six-year LAPD veteran, who worked in the gang unit at the LAPD Foothill Division, faces four counts, including forcible rape, sodomy by use of force, forcible oral copulation and anal and genital penetration with a foreign object.

LAPD personnel officials said the case will be investigated by the department's Internal Affairs Division before a decision is made on Mireles' police status. Mireles failed to show up for work the day after the alleged attack and is, in effect, "AWOL [absent without leave]" from the department, said LAPD spokesman Mike Partain.

The mood was gloomy Thursday morning at the Foothill station, where Mireles was described by several of his colleagues as a "well-liked officer."

At police headquarters in Parker Center, officers expressed fears that the case would be another blot on the reputation of the Foothill police station, which has been involved in several notorious incidents, most prominently the beating of Rodney G. King. The station's officers have been working diligently to improve their reputation and relations with the surrounding community.

"There are a lot of good, community minded things that have happened since the old, ugly days of Rodney King," said Lt. Tony Alba, an LAPD spokesman. "Something like this just deflates the balloon something awful.

"In the long run, Foothill and the LAPD pay for any criminal activities or indiscretions--that's the sad part about it," Alba said. "My concern is that this be treated for what it is--charges against one officer--and not reflective of Foothill."

Tamaki is a Times staff writer and Winton is a correspondent. Times staff writer Beth Shuster contributed to this story.

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