A prominent San Diego lawyer said there may be a fifth alleged victim in an investigation involving a San Diego Police Department officer accused of sexual misconduct on the job involving female civilians.
On Friday, attorney Dan Gilleon told NBC 7 that he had heard from another possible victim claiming sexual advances at the hands of SDPD Officer Chris Hays. Gilleon said the woman’s allegations were very serious in nature.
On Thursday, SDPD Chief Lansdowne confirmed an SDPD officer was being investigated for sexual misconduct involving at least four women.
Though Chief Lansdowne would not confirm the officer’s name, he did say the officer is being investigated for getting “sexual gratification” from the improper “pat downs” of four women he detained while on duty.
Two separate law enforcement sources confirmed the officer under review is Hays.
Chief Lansdowne maintains there was no skin-to-skin contact between the officer and the victims, and no sexual favors were exchanged.
However, Gilleon said the latest victim’s claims against Hays are more severe than what the victims before her may have alleged.
As an attorney, Gilleon is no stranger to these types of cases.
He represented eight victims of former SDPD Officer Anthony Arevalos, who was convicted of preying and sexually assaulting female motorists in downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp area.
To date, the City of San Diego has spent $2.3 million on settlements involving Arevalos’ victims. In September 2013, the city agreed to pay $795,000 in a settlement involving a woman who said she was violently sexually assaulted by Arevalos.
Now, if the latest victim’s allegations in the Hays case turn out to be true, Gilleon said local taxpayers could be on the hook for much more.
“If what I’m hearing is true about Mr. Hays, this case may be much more than what we had to pay in Anthony Arevalos – much more,” he said.
Still, Chief Lansdowne maintains the accusations against Hays are not as serious as those against Arevalos.
Meanwhile, law enforcement sources said Hays is on paid leave and his case is now transitioning form the police department to the San Diego District Attorney’s office, which will now consider potential criminal charges against the officer.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for the DA’s office said they had no specific time frame just yet for making that decision on the criminal charges.
Law enforcement sources said allegations against Hays first came to light in December, when one of the alleged victims called the department to complain about the officer’s behavior during a pat down. At least one of the alleged victims was intoxicated during an alleged encounter with Hays.