The former San Diego police officer convicted on multiple felony counts of sexual battery, assault and asking for bribes wiped away tears and apologized Friday.
Anthony Arevalos was sentenced to eight years and eight months in prison Friday for preying on young, female drivers during traffic stops made in the Gaslamp Quarter from 2009 to 2011.
At his sentencing Friday, Arevalos took several deep breaths, fought back tears and said "I realize how many people I've hurt and what I've done. I want to say I'm sorry to everyone I've hurt."
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm deeply remorseful and I pray for forgiveness," he said adding that he had learned his lesson and pleaded for mercy.
Victim Melissa W., who testified how Arevalo put his hand down another woman's pants and moved his hand from front to back after asking her to flash him in October 2010, called him a "sociopath."
This man abused his powers, devoid of sorrow, he has emotionally stunted me, the woman told the court.
Judge Jeffrey Fraser didn't hold back when he sentenced Arevalos saying the former officer went frrom "a protector to a predator."
"Somewhere along the line he went bad. Victims were vulnerable and had no one to call for help," Fraser said.
The judge said Arevalos used his badge to violate women.
"That's a crooked cop," Fraser said, "And crooked cops go to prison."
Arevalos was described as "a broken man" by defense attorney Gretchen Von Helms who argued for more than an hour that her client should be given probation and not prison time.
"You may think he's a "sexist pig,'" she said, "But he doesn't deserve state prison."
Von Helms argued that Arevalos should only receive probation, since the jury only found him guilty on 8 of 21 original counts. She added that although what Arevalos did "was wrong," the jury's reduced convictions "reduced the overall severity of the case."
Von Helms continued, saying Arevalos has shown remorse and has suffered a "free fall from a position of grace."
Prosecutors argued for the maximum possible sentence - nine years, eight months in prison - saying the former police officer kept "rolling the dice" and "finally he got caught."
They argued that Arevalos used the "Gaslamp as a playground" and "abused and mistreated people who were going on with their lives."
Deputy District Attorney Sherry Thompson, who told reporters after the hearing that she had prayed the judge would give Arevalos a high sentence, said she expects Arevalos to serve approximately half of that time, four years and four months.
Outside court, defense attorney Von Helms said the sentence was too harsh for the crimes involved.
“The point is did he rape somebody? No. Did he hurt someone’s feelings, did he cause them to be afraid, did he make sexually inappropriate comments? Yes. That is the harm,” Von Helms said explaining how she felt the severity of the crime needed to be put in perspective.
She also explained why she was moved to tears during one victim’s impact statement.
“She really got it, she got forgiveness, she got mercy and I had hoped that the judge would feel those same things and that the public would,” Von Helms.
Von Helms said officers who had wanted to testify on Arevalos’ behalf refused to do so because they told her they believe the police chief would retaliate against them.
Just after 9 a.m., Arevalos entered the courtroom in a blue prison jumpsuit and handcuffs. Several of his victims were in attendance talking with each other as he entered.
Before the sentencing hearing began Friday, the judge denied Arevalos' recent request for a new trial.
When one victim was pulled over by Arevalos in September 2009, he insisted on "favors" for letting her go without a citation.
Another was told she could avoid DUI charges if she pulled down the top of her dress in January 2010.
Click here fora timeline of the case.
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