Former Officer Convicted Of Asking for Bribes, Sexually Assaulting Women After Traffic Stops
Originally published November 17, 2011 at 4:37 p.m., updated November 17, 2011 at 6:06 p.m.
A former San Diego police officer accused of trying to elicit sex from seven women he pulled over in the Gaslamp District was convicted of eight felony counts and four misdemeanors today.
After more than three days of deliberations, jurors found Anthony Arevalos, 41, guilty of multiple counts of sexual battery by restraint, asking for a bribe and assault and battery by a police officer.
Arevalos was convicted of charges involving five women. He was acquitted of other serious charges involving two other women.
Arevalos faces a maximum of 10 years and four months in prison when he is sentenced on Dec. 19.
Judge Jeffrey Fraser ordered Arevalos to be taken into custody without bail.
One juror, who did not want to give her name, told reporters that she had to come up with verdicts that she could live with. She said she was thinking of the victims as the verdicts were reached.
"It was very stressful for us,'' the juror said. She said the case didn't change the way she looks at police officers, saying officers and there to protect the public.
Prosecutor Sherry Thompson thanked the jury for their verdicts and had special praise for the women who testified against the former officer.
"I'm grateful to the seven courageous women who came forward in this case,'' the prosecutor said. "A verdict like this shows that no one is above the law.''
Defense attorney Gretchen von Helms said she was pleased with the jury's verdict, saying Arevalos is extremely remorseful to the women he victimized, especially a woman referred to in the trial as Jane Doe that he sexually assaulted after a traffic stop.
Von Helms said Arevalos was known as a friendly officer until he went too far.
"Unfortunately, he made a mistake,'' von Helms said. "He feels terrible about it.''
Arevalos, an 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.
In her closing argument last week, Thompson said Arevalos "used the Gaslamp like a playground to stop people as he saw fit.''
Thompson told jurors that Arevalos asked the women, "What can you offer to get out of a DUI?''
Von Helms told the jury in her closing argument that there was reasonable doubt on many of the charges, saying some counts could be construed as misdemeanor conduct. She said most of the alleged victims were drunk and their testimony exaggerated.
Von Helms 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.
More information will be posted soon.