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Ex-cop accused of sex assaults

Maywood officer fired in March is charged with 12 felony counts for crimes allegedly committed on duty.

May 22, 2008|Jack Leonard | Times Staff Writer

A former Maywood police officer was charged Wednesday with sexually assaulting three women while on duty, including one he allegedly threatened to arrest and then raped.

Ryan Allen West, 28, was arrested at his home in Riverside County and was taken to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Station in San Dimas, where he was held on $640,000 bail, authorities said.

West, who worked as a K-9 officer with the Maywood Police Department until March, was charged with 12 felony counts, including rape, assault by a public officer, burglary and multiple counts of sexual assault. All of the alleged crimes occurred while West was in uniform, authorities said.

The prosecution is the latest black eye for the small southeast L.A. County police department, which has long had a reputation of hiring misfit cops.

Last year, a Times investigation into the city's Police Department found that at least a third of the officers on the force had either left other police jobs under a cloud or had brushes with the law while working for Maywood. Several officers in recent years left Maywood after being convicted of crimes.

West was hired by Maywood in September 2004 after he resigned amid allegations of misconduct in his job as a police officer in Brawley, Calif., about 30 miles north of Mexicali, Mexico, according to a law enforcement source.

West also was the subject of misconduct allegations in Maywood.

In July 2006, two students accused him and two other officers of handcuffing them and using a Taser on their genitals in an attack outside a Maywood bar. The students, who were not arrested, later filed a civil rights lawsuit against the officers and the department. West had been scheduled to give a deposition Wednesday, said the students' attorney, Ralph M. Rios.

The officers and the city have denied any wrongdoing.

Francisco Leal, who worked as the Maywood city attorney from November 2006 until March, said West was fired in March after a woman accused him of rape.

The woman alleged that West approached her while on duty and in uniform on May 18, 2007, and threatened to take her into custody on an outstanding warrant unless she met him at a local hotel, Leal said. West admitted that he had sex with the woman at the hotel, but insisted that the encounter was consensual, Leal said.

Police officials did not determine whether West's actions amounted to rape but decided that he should be fired anyway.

"Our officers cannot be having sex on duty, period," Leal said.

West's attorney who represented him in the disciplinary case declined to comment Wednesday.

Maywood Mayor Felipe Aguirre said city officials were working to restore trust in the department and praised Police Chief Frank Hauptmann for firing West.

"We're not going to tolerate this type of situation. We're going to move on it," Aguirre said. "This shouldn't reflect on the rest of the department."

The woman's complaint also triggered a criminal investigation into West's conduct.

Similar complaints from two other women also surfaced, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Margo Baxter, who is assigned to the district attorney's division that prosecutes law enforcement officers.

Baxter said a prosecutor handling an unrelated case learned that a second woman alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by a Maywood officer and forwarded the information to the district attorney's justice system integrity division.

A third woman, who was a witness in another unrelated case, told a defense attorney that she had been sexually assaulted by a Maywood officer, Baxter said. The attorney then notified the district attorney's office. Investigators identified West as the assailant in all three cases, she said.

Prosecutors said the attacks occurred between September 2006 and May 2007. Baxter declined to discuss the evidence against West or describe the assaults.

If convicted of all the charges, West could face up to 24 years and six months in prison, authorities said.


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