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El Monte police officer suspected in sexual assault of transsexual

October 25, 2013|By Richard Winton

A transsexual woman's accusation that an El Monte police officer sexually assaulted her while he was on duty last year is under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, officials said Thursday.

The woman recently filed a federal civil rights and assault lawsuit against the unnamed officer and the El Monte Police Department. In it, she said she was groped by the officer in October, forced to perform oral sex on him and then raped after being stopped while walking on a city street between 4 and 6 a.m. Oct. 23.

The officer was in a marked patrol car and ordered the woman into an alley behind a business at Central and Garvey avenues, where he attacked her, the lawsuit said.

She later retrieved a condom he used and turned it over to authorities, the lawsuit said.

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

El Monte officials said the officer, who they would not identify, was immediately placed on leave when the department learned of the allegations in 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," Police 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."

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

In the suit, filed Oct. 18, lawyers for the woman say she was stopped without cause as she walked to a friend's home and ordered to lean into the patrol cruiser, at which point 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 said, ordered her into an alley and eventually a poorly lighted parking lot near a loading dock.

Once there, the officer ordered her to perform oral sex and then raped her, the lawsuit said. She complied "out of fear for her physical safety," it said.

The officer tossed the condom he used on the ground and told her to leave, the suit said. The woman complied but later drove back to the scene, retrieved the condom and tied it off to protect the contents, according to the suit. The condom was later turned over to the Sheriff's Department.

The woman's attorney, Robert Kitson, said his client went to a hospital after the incident and the Sheriff's Department began its investigation. Kitson said his client does not know the officer's name.

richard.winton@latimes.com

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