A judge has put a hold on at least a dozen civil lawsuits aimed at San Diego County Sheriff’s deputy Richard Fischer, and the county, until a pending criminal trial plays out in court.
Fischer is awaiting trial on charges of groping or touching more than a dozen women who had called 911 for help or were in custody, according to the San Diego County District Attorney's office.
He’s pleaded not guilty to 15 criminal counts that include assault and battery under the color of authority. The alleged incidents happened between 2016 and 2018.
The judge ruled that civil case proceedings may violate Fischer's 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination now that criminal proceedings are underway.
The judge also said the “motion to stay” won’t affect the four civil cases against Fischer and the county that have already been settled, and won’t impede settlements being reached in any others.
Fischer’s most recent accuser told NBC 7 that he used his position as a uniformed officer to take advantage of her in a North County motel room while her 12-year-old daughter was nearby.
The woman says last October when sheriff's deputies responded to the woman's home for a domestic disturbance, Fischer suggested she and her daughter get a room at the Days Inn near the San Marcos sheriff’s substation so he could keep an eye on her.
She claims he showed up at the motel, requested to come into her room and guided her into the bathroom to talk so her daughter couldn't hear.
That's when she said Fischer pulled his body against her, groped her up and down and told her how beautiful she was.
The woman said she was vulnerable at that time, having just gotten into an argument with her now ex-husband, and that she was paralyzed with fear.
In May, more than a dozen alleged victims testified in the preliminary hearing and each accused the six-year veteran of the sheriff's department of kissing, hugging, or inappropriately touching them.
Fischer was arrested and charged on Feb. 22. He pleaded not guilty to all charges and denied all allegations.
Fischer was placed on paid administrative leave in October when the first accusation surfaced.
After the criminal charges were filed, Fischer was placed on unpaid leave pending the outcome of the criminal case, Sheriff Bill Gore said.