In a split decision, jurors convicted Anthony Arevalos on multiple felonies including sexual battery, assault and asking for a bribe as well as misdemeanor false imprisonment. Tony Shin reports.
Jurors convicted a former San Diego police officer on multiple felony counts of sexual battery, assault and asking for bribes.
Anthony Arevalos preyed on young, female drivers during stops made in the Gaslamp Quarter from 2009 to 2011.
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.
The former officer 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.
Jurors found Arevalos guilty on felony charges of sexual battery by restraint and assault and battery by an officer in connection with one incident that started a snowball effect of women coming forward with these stories.
It was a traffic stop on March 8 - the night of Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp.
Arevalos, in full uniform, took a 32-year-old woman, known in court documents as “Jane Doe” into the bathroom of the 7/11 on J Street where she took off her panties and was sexually assaulted.
After the victim reported the incident the next day, investigators recorded conversations with the ex-cop and located surveillance camera from the convenience store that corroborated her story.
Jurors found Arevalos guilty on all counts related to that incident except for felony false imprisonment, convicting him instead on a lesser misdemeanor count.
Arevalos was ultimately guilty of felony on eight charges, not guilty on eight charges with a mistrial declared for Count 8. He was also guilty of four counts that were reduced to misdemeanors.
In the counts associated with victims Jeannie E., Melissa W., Melissa M. and Melissa R., jurors found Arevalos guilty of assault and battery by an officer, asking for a bribe and misdemeanor false imprisonment.
Jurors acquitted Arevalos on counts connected with Danielle F. and Marjan M.
Marjan M. seemed baffled and confused after the reading of the verdicts -- all of the counts connected to her were rejected by the jury.
Marjan M. alleged that, in January 2010, Arevalos slipped his hand in to her pants under her thong and said, “Easy, you’re in good hands now.”
She also told investigators that when Arevalos put his hand on her breast, she thought it was an accident until he did it again as he moved her from the patrol car into police headquarters to take a breathalyzer test, court documents allege.
Marjan M. has filed a civil suit for an unspecified amount naming the City of San Diego and Arevalos, claiming emotional distress and severe depression.
After the verdicts, Arevalos huddled with attorney Michael Pancer. What they discussed is unknown, but while they did, Judge Jeffrey Fraser made a startling announcement.
"There is one verdict form that is not filled out," Fraser queried the jury.
After determining that was, in fact, correct, Fraser sent the jury back in to the deliberations room to fill out the form. It appears that the verdict form is for Count 8, which is from a charge connected to the alleged victim Melissa W.
They could not reach a verdict on the count which was in connection with victim Melissa W. so the judge declared a mistrial on that count.
Judge Fraser polled the jury after the readings, and they all affirmed that the verdicts had been read as they had been decided.
He then thanked them for their service and reminded them they could speak to the media only if they chose to do so.
The jurors then were released, after Fraser told them they could talk to the media, talk to the lawyers, talk to both, or return home.
Fraser told the panel that he had never seen a jury take more notes during a trial. He commended them for doing a very good job on a very difficult trial.
Fraser then began working with the attorneys to set a sentencing date, with a clerk suggesting Dec. 19. Von Helms agreed, with all parties agreeing to return to the court at 9:30 on that date.
Von Helms then requested that her client not be remanded to custody. Fraser, however, said that, based on the very serious nature of the case, he had decided to order Arevalos remanded to custody and also ordered the ex-cop to be held without bail.
San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne responded to the verdict with a statement saying: "I believe that justice has been served in this case and the San Diego Police Department, as well as the law enforcement community in general, can begin to heal after this terrible episode. The jury was thoughtful and considerate in reaching their verdict and I am confident in their decisions."
Lansdowne also wrote that the case brought a "black mark of discredit upon all law enforcement" and he is said the department will ensure this does not happen again.
Twenty minutes before the verdict was read, Arevalos walked in flanked by lawyers. He looked relatively calm.
Only one of the two attorneys who defended Arevalos was with him for the verdict. That attorney was Gretchen von Helms. Her husband, attorney Jan Ronis, who defended the case during trial, was not there.
With von Helms and Arevalos was Pancer, a very noted defense attorney who was seen in court at least once during the trial.
Also with Arevalos, was defense atty Guadalupe Valencia and another attorney.
The trial in which he faced 21 felony counts went to the jury on November 10.
Click here for a timeline of the incidents, charges and court proceedings.
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