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EL Monte police officer accused of sexual assault while on duty

October 24, 2013|By Richard Winton

An El Monte police officer is under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on suspicion of sexually assaulting a transsexual woman last year while on duty, officials said Thursday.

The woman recently filed a federal civil rights and assault lawsuit against the unnamed El Monte police officer and the El Monte Police Department. She says she was stopped last October after between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. on a city street and alleges that the officer groped her, forced her to perform oral sex on him and then raped her.

The woman alleges the officer stopped her as she walked Oct. 23, 2012. He was in a marked patrol car and ordered her into an alley behind a business at Central and Garvey avenues, where he attacked her, she claims in the lawsuit.

She later was able to retrieve a condom he used and turned it over to authorities, the lawsuit alleges.

Sheriff’s Lt. Bob Peacock said Thursday the investigation into the officer is ongoing and that detectives are awaiting DNA results and other evidence. He said the case has yet to be presented to the district attorney. Peacock said the officer has not been arrested.

El Monte officials said the officer, whom they would not identify, was immediately placed on leave when the department learned of the allegations last October.

“These allegations are very disturbing and clearly not representative of the expectations we have for the men and women who serve the El Monte Police Department,” Chief Steve Schuster said.

“We take any allegation against our Police Department or individual police officers very seriously because we hold our officers to the highest standard,” he continued.

Schuster said he asked the Sheriff’s Department to conduct a criminal investigation into the allegations. The officer is to remain on leave pending its completion.

In the suit filed Oct. 18, lawyers for the woman allege that she was stopped without cause as she walked to a friend’s home and was ordered to lean into the patrol cruiser, at which point, they said, the officer “groped her breasts.”

He then asked if she was a “she male” and the woman responded she was a transsexual, according to the suit. The officer, the suit alleges, ordered her into an alley and eventually a poorly lit parking lot near a loading dock.

Once there, the officer ordered her to perform oral sex and then raped her, the complaint says. She complied “out of fear for her physical safety,” the lawsuit says.

The officer tossed the condom he used on the ground and told her to get out of there, the suit alleges. The woman complied but later drove back to scene, retrieved the condom and tied it off to protect the contents, according to the suit. The condom was later turned over to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.

Robert Kitson, an attorney for the woman, said his client went to a hospital in the aftermath and the Sheriff's Department began its investigation. Kitson said his client does not know the officer's name.

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Twitter: @lacrimes | Google+

richard.winton@latimes.com

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