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Teenage girl sues Santa Maria, police officer's widow

A young woman argues that a Santa Maria police officer was a sexual predator and seeks damages from the city and the officer's widow.

August 12, 2012|By Steve Chawkins, Los Angeles Times
  • Albert Covarrubias Jr. was fatally shot by fellow Santa Maria police officers who were trying to arrest him in January.
Albert Covarrubias Jr. was fatally shot by fellow Santa Maria police officers… (Associated Press )

A teenage girl who was in a sexual relationship with a Santa Maria police officer has sued the city over alleged negligence in operating a Police Department youth program.

The girl — known in the federal lawsuit as Jane Doe — was 17 when she was involved with Albert Covarrubias Jr., an officer who was fatally shot Jan. 29 as other members of the Santa Maria department tried to arrest him on suspicion of sex crimes.

The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, accuses the city of failing to properly run the police Explorers program, in which the girl participated.

"Such programs are known to be plagued with inappropriate sexual misconduct," the suit said.

The suit also seeks damages from Covarrubias' estate and his widow, Gloria, whom he had wed just three weeks before his death.

Other officers knew about the relationship between Covarrubias and Jane Doe but failed to stop it, according to the suit.

Covarrubias was depicted as a predator who told Jane Doe "he would kill her boyfriend and her family" if she didn't sleep with him.

The suit was filed by Woodland Hills lawyers Terry M. Goldberg, Bradley C. Gage and Milad Sadr. The Santa Maria city attorney's office has declined to comment.

steve.chawkins@latimes.com

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