The wife of former San Diego Police Officer Christopher Hays is speaking out publicly for the first time since her husband left the department.
“I don’t have any doubts. I know my husband better than anyone, and I think if anyone spent five minutes with my husband, they wouldn’t have any doubts either,” said Erika Hays.
Erika, a naturally shy person, said she is stepping outside her comfort zone because she it’s time for her to defend her husband.
“He’s doing pretty well, all things considered," she said. "I think right now he’s mostly just angry about what’s going on. Eventually he’ll be sad about things. I think right now he’s angry at the situation and also focusing on fighting his own case.”
Erika was referring to what will be a very public battle against the San Diego Police Department.
Christopher Hays, a former San Diego Police Officer, is accused of sexual misconduct while in uniform.
At least four women say he touched and groped them inappropriately while on duty. But Erika thinks her husband may have been held to higher standards.
“I think that if Chris wasn’t a son-in-law of an assistant chief, they wouldn’t have investigated him as intensely as they did," Erika said.
Erika’s step-father is a 30-year veteran of the San Diego Police Department. He was recently promoted to assistant chief.
Erika said the accusations against her husband are one big misunderstanding.
Christopher is an Arkansas native. He grew up in a town of less than 500 people, and Erika believes he can be a little too nice and too trusting sometimes.
“He’s naïve, kind of," said Erika. "He thought he could come out here, help people and actually make a difference in the world. Now he looks back on it and he’s like, ‘God, I was so naïve.'"
Erika and Christopher had a whirlwind romance, his wife said.
The two eloped just after four months of dating, and she said he was different than the other boys she had dated. She told NBC 7 that she felt like he wasn’t going to break her heart and that he would take care of her.
Erika said Christopher told her he wanted to be a police officer the first night they met.
“He would bring home his reviews, and he had excellent reviews always. He took every overtime shift he was offered. He got a life-saving award medal a year ago, which is rare," said Erika. "They don’t just hand those things out. He didn’t have to run into a burning building. He did it because he took an oath to help people and to serve people.”
But three of the alleged victims described a much darker side of Christopher Hays at his preliminary hearing.
One woman, identified only as Jane Doe Two, said he gave her a pat down and lingered over every part of her body.
The alleged victim known as Jane Doe Three accused Hays of dropping his hands toward his groin and asked her to touch it.
Erika was in the courtroom during the preliminary hearing, sandwiched between her mother and her best friend. When Judge Rogers decided her husband would stand trial, Erika had an outburst in court.
“It was my 30th birthday. I was a little upset. I was supposed to be with my girlfriends, but instead I was there. When I was listening to (Hays’ defense attorney) Kerry give his closing arguments, I started getting emotional, and I was crying because everything he was saying made so much sense," said Erika.
"In my head I was thinking we could have our lives back, and in five minutes, things could be normal again. When Judge Rogers was completely opposite, that was my moment – I lost it. For two and a half months, I tried to keep my cool, and I just lost it because I wanted my life back and I was upset about it, and I did apologize to Judge Rogers because I know that was inappropriate,” she added.
When asked what she wants San Diego to think of her, she responded, “I think a lot of people think I’m naïve and I’m going to stand by my man, which couldn’t be further from the truth. If I thought it was true, I would not stand by him. Don’t judge. Wait and hear all the evidence before you judge anything.”
Erika said the hardest part for Christopher is that he’s no longer able to coach his 5-year-old son’s Little League games.
Once the trial is over, she wants to move away from San Diego.
Right now she is the sole breadwinner of the family as she and Christopher are paying for legal fees. Christopher's trial is scheduled for November.