A former San Diego County sheriff's deputy awaiting trial on allegations he sexually assaulted 21 women while on duty and in uniform has entered a guilty plea, NBC 7 has learned.
Richard Fischer's trial was slated to begin Monday, Sept. 9. He faced 19 criminal charges on 16 victims.
An amended criminal complaint was filed with the seven charges against 16 women, far fewer and less severe than the 20 charges the District Attorney's Office had at one point filed against the former deputy; all charges of sexual assault were dropped.
On Monday he pleaded guilty to four felony counts of assault and battery by an officer, two counts of misdemeanor assault by an officer and one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment.
Women accuse Fischer of groping them or kissing them without their consent during incidents in several communities including Vista, Lakeside, El Cajon and San Marcos.
One of the women said she filed a complaint with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department in May 2016 regarding a traffic stop that happened on Nov. 24, 2015.
She claimed Fischer touched her in inappropriate places during the stop.
That vicitm, who only wanted to be identified as Michelle, told NBC 7 following court proceedings that she had mixed feelings about the plea deal.
"It's not complete justice, you know, and I feel kind of like that one slipped by but I have no control over it," Michelle said.
She said she hopes that Fischer does have to register as a sex offender. She also wants other victims to know that they can come forward.
"If anything is wrong and you know it in your heart, don't be held back by what people might think of you. If it's right, you got to do what's right and just speak up," she said.
A criminal investigation against then-Deputy Fischer was not formally submitted for review to the District Attorney's Office until Jan. 22, 2018.
Four months later, two civil lawsuits against the county were settled regarding the allegations.
By June 2018, Fischer was ordered to stand trial.
“Obviously I wouldn’t be fighting this if I was guilty of any of these charges,” Fischer once told NBC 7.
On Feb. 22, 2019, Fischer's employment as a sheriff's deputy ends. When asked if Fischer resigned or was terminated, Lt. Karen Stubjkaer said, "he no longer works for the San Diego County Sheriff's Department."
Multiple civil complaints have been filed against San Diego County and the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.
The women accuse Fischer of hugging or kissing them without consent, groping their bodies and even forcing them to perform oral copulation.
Several of the women have testified that came into contact with Fischer because they were victims of a crime and had called the sheriff's department for help.
Fischer is accused of committing the crimes while in uniform and on the job with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.
"The only way to clear my name, the only way to get the truth out is through a jury trial," Fischer said in a previous interview.
According to criminal complaints, the first incident occurred on July 20, 2015.
To see a full timeline of the criminal case against Fischer, click here.
Fischer is scheduled to be sentenced in December.