Former cop’s assault trial now in hands of jury

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A former San Diego police officer accused of trying to
elicit sexual favors from seven women he pulled over in the Gaslamp District
was a “predator” preying on women in short skirts and high heels, a
prosecutor said Thursday.

Following closing arguments, jury deliberations began in the trial of
Anthony Arevalos, who faces more than 19 years behind bars if convicted of 21
felony counts, including assault under the color of authority, sexual battery
by restraint, soliciting or receiving a bribe and false imprisonment by force
or fear.

The 18-year SDPD veteran was fired after allegations came to light in
March that he tried to make a deal with women he stopped and sexually assaulted
three of them. Most of the stops in question were for driving under the
influence and happened between September 2009 and March of this year.

“The defendant is a predator,” Deputy District Attorney Sherry
Thompson told the jury in her rebuttal closing argument. The prosecutor said
Arevalos, 41, “used the Gaslamp like a playground to stop people as he saw
fit,” thus meeting women he wouldn't have otherwise.

Thompson urged jurors to focus on whether Arevalos represented to the
women he stopped that he could be influenced to make their ticket or arrest
“go away.”

The prosecutor said Arevalos abused his authority and took advantage of
his victims.

“He cheated and thought he could get away with it, and he got caught,”
she said.

Thompson told jurors that Arevalos asked the women “What can you do for
me?” and “What can you offer to get out of a DUI?”

Arevalos used the bribes to get “a peek, a touch, even a feel” on
women he pulled over, she said. “That's what it was worth to him.”

Thompson said Arevalos sexually assaulted a woman identified as Jane Doe
in a downtown 7-Eleven bathroom after pulling her over for not using her turn
signal after a Mardi Gras celebration last March 8.

He subsequently told her he would make a DUI “go away,” the prosecutor
said.

“This has to be between you and I,” Arevalos told Jane Doe later in a
recorded call made with the help of police.

Before the sexual assault, Arevalos had the woman give him her panties
to make him feel good, Thompson said.

In the recorded call, Arevalos told Jane Doe “You handled it (the
situation) very well, very well. I wanted to please you in every way, every
way.”

In other stops, Arevalos kept women at the scene much longer than was
needed, the prosecutor told the jury.

Thompson said one woman told Arevalos she didn't have any money, and the
officer responded by saying that wasn't what he was looking for.

“This officer had one thing in mind, and it was sexual in nature,” the
prosecutor said.

Arevalos had one woman drive around the corner after a stop when she
said she would “show him something,” a promise she broke when she gave the
officer a bogus phone number, Thompson said.

The defendant slid his hands down the pants of another woman he stopped
for DUI when he was putting her in handcuffs, the prosecutor said. Afterward,
Arevalos said to her, “Easy, easy, you're in good hands,” and also cupped the
woman's breast and told her, “You should have said, `Officer spank me,”'
Thompson said.

The defendant also stuck his hand down another woman's pants and had her
flash her breasts after asking if they were real, Thompson alleged.

On the way to jail, Arevalos told another woman he arrested for DUI,
“If you didn't have a roommate, things would be different,” the prosecutor
said.

Thompson said all seven victims testified truthfully about what happened
to them.

“This is not a coincidence. This is a crime,” the prosecutor said.

Defense attorney Gretchen von Helms told the jury in her closing
argument on Wednesday that there was reasonable doubt on many of the charges,
saying some counts could be construed as misdemeanor conduct.

The attorney said Arevalos was friendly to the women he pulled over and
did not use force of fear to detain them.

Von Helms said most of the alleged victims were drunk and their
testimony exaggerated.

“Alcohol emboldens you,” the defense attorney said.

She said most of the women came forward after the allegations against
Jane Doe came to light.

“If someone does a crime to you, you call,” von Helms said.

The attorney said some of the alleged victims sought benefits for their
testimony, such as getting their DUI cases dismissed, while some have a vested
interest in the outcome of the criminal case because they have filed claims
against the city seeking monetary damages.

Von Helms said Jane Doe was controlling the situation after being pulled
over by Arevalos and “used everything in her arsenal to get out of this
ticket.”

The attorney said the sex between Jane Doe and Arevalos was consensual.

Categories: KUSI