Woman says former officer sexually assaulted her in restroom
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A woman testified Tuesday that a former San Diego police officer sexually assaulted her in a 7-Eleven restroom near the Gaslamp District after asking for her underwear to get out of a drunken-driving ticket.
The woman, testifying in a preliminary hearing for Anthony Arevalos, said he pulled her over in his marked patrol unit around 11 p.m. March 8 as she left downtown after riding a float in the Mardi Gras parade.
The witness, identified as Jane Doe, testified that Arevalos told her he stopped her because she didn't use her turn signal on G Street as she headed for state Route 94. The woman said Arevalos asked if she'd been drinking, and she said it had been more than three hours since her last drink.
The woman, who was 31 at the time, said she took two breathalyzer tests at the scene, and Arevalos told her that her blood-alcohol level reading came out both times as 0.09, above the legal limit.
“I was shocked,” she testified.
“I started freaking out,” she said, adding that she told Arevalos she couldn't afford a DUI because it would ruin her career in education.
“He said, `We might be able to work something out,”' the woman testified. “He asked me what I'd be willing to do to get out of this.”
At some point, Arevalos, 40, told the woman to drive to a nearby 7- Eleven to discuss the matter further because they were at the traffic stop too long and people were starting to look.
The witness said she didn't answer Arevalos' questions about what she'd be willing to do to make her potential ticket go away.
“He said he needed something from me to make it worth his while,” the woman testified, saying Arevalos told her it would take some time for his paperwork to “disappear.”
“I asked him what he wanted,” the woman said. “He said, `I had another lady give me her bra and panties.”
The witness said she just paid $70 for her bra and didn't want to give the officer that, so he agreed take her underwear.
She said she went into the 7-Eleven with Arevalos with the intention of going into the restroom and removing her underwear to give to him. But she said Arevalos got the key to the restroom and followed her inside.
“He followed me in and shut the door and locked it,” the woman testified.
She said she took off her jeans and underwear when Arevalos made a comment.
“He said I had really nice breasts and could he see them?” the woman testified.
She said she pulled up her bra and shirt to flash the officer and he immediately put his finger on her vagina and stroked her private area, causing her to freeze up.
“He said, `It'll be more comfortable if you lean against me,”' Jane Doe testified.
Once the alleged sexual assault was over, Arevalos gave the woman her panties back, saying “You might need these for work,” she testified.
When they exited the store, Arevalos told the woman “we're in this together” and not to tell anyone what happened, she testified.
The woman said she gave Arevalos a business card with her cell phone number on it. She said she didn't report the incident right away, but did so a day later because she realized Arevalos might do the same thing to other people.
Arevalos, who was with SDPD for 18 years before being fired, faces more that 20 years in state prison if convicted of 22 charges, including false imprisonment, assault under the color of authority, sexual battery by restraint and receiving a bribe, according to Deputy District Attorney Sherry Thompson.
The charges involve eight women from whom the former officer allegedly tried to elicit favors during traffic stops, mostly in the Gaslamp District.
A woman testified Monday that Arevalos pulled her over about 2 a.m. Oct. 22 after she left a Gaslamp bar with friends. The woman said she was stopped by the officer — supposedly for sitting at a stop sign for too long — as soon as she backed out of a parking space.
The woman — who said she was 30 at the time of the stop — testified that the officer wanted her to take a breathalyzer test and field sobriety test, but she refused and stayed in her car.
“He said, `You've got a lot at stake right here and so do I,”' the woman testified.
The woman said Arevalos massaged her nipple with a hand-held breathalyzer and asked her, “Can you feel that?” She said he then stuck his hand down the front of her jeans and moved it front to back several times. The woman said she wasn't wearing underwear.
At some point, the woman said she lifted up her shirt to expose her breasts, and shortly after that Arevalos called her a cab.
The woman said she had told a number of friends what happened — she told defense attorney Jan Ronis that the encounter was “shocking and uncomfortable” — and learned about the officer's arrest in March.
Another woman testified that Arevalos pushed his hands down the back of her pants while handcuffing her on suspicion of DUI on Jan. 11 in the Gaslamp.
She said Arevalos squeezed her breast and said “umm” while putting her in the back of his patrol car and grabbed her breast again after taking her to the police station.
Thompson said most of the alleged victims were between 20 and 30, and many of them appeared to be students. She alleged that Arevalos tried to find out things of a personal nature about the women he stopped, like their interests and what they were studying.
Arevalos, a married father of two, was on duty during all of the alleged crimes, the prosecutor said.
The former officer — who is free on $200,000 bail — is accused of sexually assaulting a woman he stopped on Jan. 10, 2010, in three different locations and is also charged with receiving a bribe in connection with a traffic stop of a female motorist on Sept. 28, 2009, Thompson said.
The officer stopped another alleged victim for an expired vehicle registration last Dec. 29. Arevalos told the woman he smelled alcohol and gave her a DUI test, which registered above .05 percent, the prosecutor said.
Because the woman was under 21, Arevalos detained her for being a minor under the influence of alcohol, Thompson said.
When Arevalos asked her what she would be willing to do to make the arrest go away, she told him she was willing to sleep in her car and have a friend pick her up, according to the prosecutor.
When that failed to resolve the issue, Arevalos allegedly told the woman they could go in a dark corner for 30 minutes or go in the back of his patrol car for 15 minutes.
The woman declined, and when another officer arrived, she was given a citation, the prosecutor said.
At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing Judge John Einhorn will determine whether enough evidence was presented for Arevalos to stand trial.