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L.A. County sheriff's lieutenant is under investigation in sex-assault case

The department is conducting an internal criminal probe into whether Lt Michael Rodriguez went to the home of a coworker and sexually assaulted her. Rodriguez denies the allegations.

June 08, 2010|By Robert Faturechi, Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is conducting an internal investigation into allegations that a lieutenant in San Dimas went to the home of a co-worker and sexually assaulted her.

The accused lieutenant, Michael Rodriguez, has been reassigned to the Cerritos station as a result of the investigation.

According to a complaint filed with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the woman alleges that she was sexually harassed for more than a year, accusing the lieutenant of sending her inappropriate text messages and hugging her at work "in order to rub himself against her breasts."

Rodriguez allegedly visited the woman at her Cerritos home in October and sexually assaulted her, according to the claim.

"The sheriff is taking this very seriously," said sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore. "He always looks at this sort of thing with a microscopic eye."

The woman, who works as a civilian operator at the San Dimas station, filed a claim with the county for $5 million in damages in March. An internal criminal investigation is ongoing into the allegation of sexual assault, Whitmore said. Once that investigation is complete, the case will be turned over to the district attorney's office, which will decide whether to prosecute. An internal administrative investigation is being conducted into the alleged sexual harassment.

Attorneys for the county rejected the $5-million claim in May because the criminal investigation is ongoing.

In an interview, Rodriguez denied the allegations, declining to elaborate until the investigation was complete.

An attorney for the woman — whose identity was not disclosed in the claim — did not return a call for comment.

robert.faturechi@latimes.com

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