He was supposed to serve and protect, but a former San Mateo police officer was arrested from his Stockton home around 11:40 a.m. Thursday on suspicion of sexually assaulting women while on duty, officials said.
According to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, the 22 charges against Noah White Winchester — including kidnapping with intent to commit rape, rape, sexual penetration and oral copulation under color of authority, sexual battery, criminal threats, and forcible sex offenses — span five victims.
The alleged crimes occurred while 31-year-old Winchester was on duty between July 2, 2013 and Oct. 19, 2015, Wagstaffe said.
In 2013, Winchester worked as a police officer for the Los Rios Community College District and his victims hail from Sacramento. In 2015, Winchester targeted San Mateo County residents while working as a police officer for the city of San Mateo, Wagstaffe said.
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Investigators have not found evidence of any incidents in 2014, Wagstaffe told NBC Bay Area. When asked why Winchester had been arrested so long after the initial alleged crimes, Wagstaffe replied that he was "not reported until [the] end of 2015."
Winchester is being booked into San Joaquin County Jail on $3.1 million bail, Wagstaffe said, and is expected to be arraigned next week. Winchester doesn't yet have a lawyer, the district attorney said.
The San Mateo Police Department said in a statement Thursday that Winchester had been put on "indefinite leave" when the district attorney's office began its investigation, at the behest of San Mateo and Burlingame police, last October. Winchester resigned amid the probe in February, officials said.
"We are horrified by the news of the recent arrest of this former San Mateo and Los Rios Community College District Police Officer, and want to assure our community and our leaders that this neither reflects nor deflects the dedication to duty and selfless service that our men and women commit themselves to every day on every contact," the police department statement said.
San Mateo police said that Winchester joined their department in early 2015, with prior law enforcement experience under his belt.
"He was really a valued member of his patrol beat," San Mateo Police Chief Susan Manheimer said.
He worked there for roughly 10 months, after passing extensive background checks, polygraph tests and more, Manheimer said.
Winchester's career as a law enforcement officer ended Oct. 20 when a local woman came to the San Mateo police headquarters and said he raped her. Her allegations triggered the months-long investigation in which victims were discovered as far as Sacramento County, authorities said.
"While we respect the now former officer's right to due process under the law and the presumption that he is innocent until proven guilty, we as a department cannot help but be appalled by the nature of these allegations," the department statement said.
It continued: "These allegations, if proven true, are a disgrace and wholly disavowed by this department and this city."
San Mateo resident Nahrain Gawronek agreed.
"You expect more, so it is disappointing," she said.