LAPD Officers James Nichols, 44, and Luis Valenzuela 43, have both been arrested and charged with multiple counts of sexual assaults, including forcible rape, rape under color of authority, oral copulation under color of authority and oral copulation by force. (Click for press release)
The officers, who were charged yesterday, are expected to be arraigned Today (2/18/2016).Officer Valenzuela is also accused of holding one of the women at gunpoint, presumably during one of the alleged sexual assaults. At the time of the assaults, the victims ages are 19, 24, 25, and 34.
Detectives for the LAPD conducted the criminal investigation into the pair of officers and felt there was sufficient evidence to warrant the felony charges and arrests.
These two officers have disgraced themselves. They’ve disgraced this badge. They’ve disgraced this office,” said Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck. Any officer that abuses the public’s trust is not welcome in the LAPD,” Beck said earlier in a prepared statement.
Back in January, the city agreed to a payout of almost $600,000 to one of the victims. The victim claimed that the officers forced her to have sex, threatening jail time for her if she refused.
Previous Article (LA Times)
Nichols and Valenzuela, both 41, were working as narcotics detectives in Hollywood in 2010 when they arrested the woman, according to one of her attorneys, Dennis Chang, and a search warrant affidavit LAPD investigators filed as part of their criminal investigation into the officers’ conduct.
The officers offered to help free the woman from custody as she awaited trial and win her a lenient sentence if she agreed to work for them as an informant on other investigations, according to Chang and the affidavit.
Over the next year, Nichols and Valenzuela confronted the woman repeatedly, telling her they would no longer help her in her case unless she had sex with them, Chang and the affidavit said. She agreed, she told investigators, out of fear the officers would send her back to jail if she refused.
In March 2010, Valenzuela showed up at the woman’s apartment when he was off duty and, several months later, had sex with her in the back seat of an unmarked undercover car when he was working, according to the affidavit. Nichols, the woman told investigators, brought her to a hotel and, on a later encounter, had sex with her in her apartment.
The officers used similar threats on three other woman who also worked for them as informants or knew the officers from previous arrests, the affidavit showed. One of the alleged victims said the two officers pulled up alongside her in a Volkswagon Jetta as she was walking her dog in Hollywood. The officers, whom she recognized as the same cops who had arrested her previously, ordered her into the car, according to the affidavit.
The woman said she felt compelled to comply. Valenzuela, she said, got into the back seat with the woman and handed her dog to Nichols, who drove the car to a more secluded area. “Why don’t you cut out that tough girl crap,” the woman recounted Valenzuela saying as he forced her to perform oral sex on him, according to police records contained in the warrant.