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Lawsuit Alleges Police Officer Raped Woman

Litigation: District attorney investigated and declined to file charges. Patrolman has since been fired.

November 29, 2001|JEAN GUCCIONE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Van Nuys woman has sued the city of Los Angeles and a former police officer, alleging the officer raped her in January after driving her home from a nightclub in his patrol car.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office reviewed Reyna Royball's allegations and declined to file charges against the former officer, in part because she has a history of making false allegations, according to documents summarizing the investigation.

But the Los Angeles Police Department fired Officer Gale Medina, 30, in July after an internal investigation found him guilty of misconduct, said LAPD Lt. Horace Frank, who could not elaborate on whether the misconduct involved Royball.

Medina told investigators that he had consensual sex with Royball, according to the district attorney's office. Investigators found in Medina's possession a list of women's names, addresses, phone numbers, driver's licenses and other personal information, which some of the women said they never gave him, investigators said in the documents released by the office.

As a result, investigators alleged Medina illegally used LAPD computers to obtain personal information about these women. They referred the matter to the Los Angeles city attorney's office in April. No charges were filed, a city attorney spokesman said.

Medina, who joined the LAPD in 1997, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Royball and her husband, Gerald, filed the civil lawsuit last week in Superior Court in Van Nuys.

The suit alleges that Medina, while on duty Jan. 5, raped Reyna Royball at her apartment.

Since then, Royball has experienced "depression, anxiety, humiliation and emotional suffering," the suit contends. Her husband alleges the loss of consortium. They seek unspecified monetary damages.

The woman's attorney, Charles D. Sneathern of Torrance, said Medina offered Royball a ride home from the Hacienda Cristal nightclub in Van Nuys. She had never met Medina, who was alone in his patrol car in the club parking lot, but asked him to call a taxicab for her because there were no working pay telephones nearby, her lawyer said.

Medina questioned her about the whereabouts of her husband, who was at work, and her children, who were being cared for by a neighbor, Sneathern said.

The uniformed officer threatened to have her five children removed from the household, Sneathern said. When they arrived at the apartment, Medina demanded to see the children and Royball's identification.

"She went into the bedroom to get her wallet. When she turned around, he was there" and raped her, the lawyer said.

In the documents, Medina told investigators that Royball asked him for the ride and made sexual advances when they reached the apartment.

About 2 a.m., shortly after Medina left, Royball called 911 and reported being raped, according to the district attorney's office.

The office declined last April to prosecute Medina because there were no independent witnesses and no physical or medical evidence to support the allegations, the documents said.

Royball's statements to detectives also were inconsistent, and witnesses told investigators she had a history of making false allegations, sexually aggressive behavior and alcohol abuse, according to the documents.

The city denied Royball's claim for monetary damages in June.

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