One of the more than a dozen women who have accused a San Diego County sheriff's deputy of sexual misconduct took the witness stand at his preliminary hearing Wednesday.
The witness, identified in court as Debra A., was called by prosecutors to present evidence that six-year SDSO veteran Richard Fischer should stand trial for charges of groping or touching at least a dozen women who had called 911 for help or were in custody, according to the San Diego County District Attorney's office.
Fischer was arrested and charged on Feb. 22. He pleaded not guilty to all charges and denied all allegations.
Debra A. said she called 911 on October 16 after an argument with her ex-boyfriend and Fischer showed up at her door.
She let him in and, over the course of his stay, he proceeded to hug her two times as he asked questions about her home.
"He started looking around my home and observed that the blinds were open and he was, um, asking if the blinds were always open and if anyone could see in," the witness said. "He asked me if anyone else was home. At that point, no, I was home alone."
At one point she asked what his name was.
"I wanted to make sure I had his name in case something happened or I needed it for whatever reason because he was making me feel weird. It was disturbing," Debra A. said.
The defense questioned her recollection of that night. An attorney asked whether the reason she couldn’t remember some of the evening's details, like where she had previously gone to dinner and what time she called 911, because she was intoxicated.
She said she may have been feeling the effects of alcohol earlier in the evening but not when Fischer came to her home.
When Fischer and Debra A. approached the front door towards the end of their interaction, Fischer hugged her for a third time -- this time grabbing her bottom, she said.
"He took my hand and he put it on his crotch and I told him, I just asked, 'What are you doing; I’m a respectful person here.' I was in shock. I didn’t know what to do."
Debra A. said she pulled away and Fischer left her home.
Next, witness Michelle Y. took the stand to detail an alleged incident with Fischer on July 20, 2015. She said Fischer inappropriately touched her after pulling her over on her bike.
Charges against Fischer stem from incidents over a span of two years and four months with the earliest alleged incident happening in May 2015 and the most recent incident occurring in October 2017.
Four alleged victims have reached settlements with San Diego County in civil lawsuits.
Women say Fischer was in uniform and on duty when he inappropriately touched them in their homes or while they were in custody.
The DA's office said Fischer would return to victims' homes late at night after the call had been cleared from dispatch records and no other deputies were present.
Several times the unwanted touching and questioning occurred minutes or even hours after other deputies had left the scene, the women claim.
Prosecutors said half of the victims had called the sheriff's department after they were victims of a crime. The other half of the victims were in custody and handcuffed when the alleged assaults occurred.
“These are simply allegations,” Fischer's defense attorney Richard Pinckard told Judge David Danielson during his arraignment. "Mr. Fischer has a very strong desire to go through this process to clear his name."
Fischer was placed on paid administrative leave in October when the first accusation surfaced.
After the criminal charges were filed Thursday, Fischer was placed on unpaid leave pending the outcome of the criminal case, Sheriff Bill Gore said.
The criminal investigation into these allegations was handled by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. The case was submitted to the San Diego County District Attorney's office for review on January 22.
Here are the charges and the dates and victims attached to those charges.
- October 6, 2017: – Sexual battery , Assault and Battery by an officer, Jane Doe 1
- May 1, 2015 - Assault and battery by an officer, Jane Doe 2
- February 1, 2016 - Assault and battery by an officer , Jane Doe 2
- November 24, 2015 - Assault and battery by an officer , Jane Doe 3
- January 3, 2016 - Assault and battery by an officer, Jane Doe 4
- February 29, 2016- Assault and battery by an officer , Jane Doe 5
- June 19, 2017- Assault and battery by an officer , Jane Doe 6
- August 6, 2016 Assault and battery by an officer , Jane Doe 7
- September 1, 2016 - Assault and battery by an officer , Jane Doe 8
- November 4, 2016 – Assault and battery by an officer , Jane Doe 9
- November 26, 2016 – Assault and battery by an officer, Jane Doe 10
- May 3, 2017 – False imprisonment , Jane Doe 11
- August 20, 2017- Assault and battery by an officer, Jane Doe 12
Read about the complaints here.
The San Diego County District Attorney's Office said any additional victims can call their office directly at (619) 531-4040.