Why Did It Take So Long To Charge LAPD Cops Who Raped 4 Women?

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After reviewing several sexual allegations for years, why did it take so long to file charges against these two veteran Los Angeles police officers?

 

For more than five years, two veteran Los Angeles police officers who worked as partners, repeatedly sexually assaulted multiple women, threatening them with arrest or jail if they didn’t fulfill their demands.

Officers James Nichols, 44, and Luis Valenzuela, 43, were arrested and charged with multiple counts of sexual assault, including rape under color of authority, according to a criminal complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

They were partners on the narcotics beat in Hollywood when they “began sexually assaulting women at various locations, including in their police vehicle,” the Los Angeles County District Attorney said.

All four alleged victims were previously arrested by the officers during drug related investigations, and two were working with the officers as informants, according to prosecutors.

Each of the victims had the same story; all were often, after being threatened with jail according to the Los Angeles Times  taken by car to desolate areas where they were forced to perform sex acts on one officer while the other “kept watch.” The prosecutors reported that they didn’t drive a patrol car, but instead an undercover Volkswagen Jetta.

The criminal charges against these officers came more than two years ago after a woman filed civil lawsuit against the officers. "These women were drug users, they're primarily arrested and in custody, in an extremely vulnerable state," stated attorney Dennis Chang who is representing the women. "They were afraid."

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Both veteran officers have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Last year, in an investigation of sexual misconduct by U.S. law enforcement, The Associated Press found out that “1,000 officers...lost their badges in a six-year period for rape, sodomy and other sexual assault; sex crimes that included possession of child pornography; or sexual misconduct such as propositioning citizens or having consensual but prohibited on-duty intercourse.”

The filing of criminal charges against officers for on-duty felony conduct is rare and represents a black eye for the LAPD.

The Washington Post states that these investigations were dragged on for years without any progress.

But why? Why did it take so long for the charges to be filed after they were reported four years ago?

Sexual misconduct committed by on-duty police officers goes vastly underreported and there are multiple reasons as to why that happens. For instance, in December, Daniel Holtzclaw, the Oklahoma City, OK, police officer was found guilty of 18 counts, including forcible oral sodomy, sexual battery, and five counts of rape. In his case, justice was delayed because he targeted low-status minority women who would be less likely to turn him in. He also used threats of arrest or existing warrants to coerce his victims into sex.

Prosecution of sexual offenses is tricky within the current criminal justice system, it gets even more complicated when cops are the ones accused. Around 60 percent of sexual assaults go unreported, only 3 percent of rapists serve time in prison, according to a U.S. Department of Justice survey, but the numbers for police officers are nonexistent.

Meanwhile, police departments send their cops accused of sexual offenses on paid leaves, as was seen in the LAPD case mentioned above.

So, it mainly comes down to the broken criminal justice system that protects cops like Nichols, Valenzuela and Holtzclaw.

Read More: After 1,356 Complaints — LAPD Still Won't Admit To Racial Profiling

 

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