Last Active Case Against Former SDPD Officer Arevalos Settled For $5.9M
Attorneys and city officials Thursday announced the largest single settlement with an unidentified victim of a former police officer who was found guilty of soliciting sexual bribes from women while on duty.
"Jane Doe," who claimed then-San Diego police officer Anthony Arevalos demanded sexual favors from her in a convenience store restroom, settled her federal lawsuit against the city for $5.9 million, lawyers on both sides of the case announced at a news conference. In comparison, 12 other victims previously settled their claims for a total of $2.3 million.
The city of San Diego will pay $200,000 while the remaining $5.7 million will be covered by the city's insurance carries, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said. Three million will go toward attorney's fees.
Linda Workman, an attorney for the unidentified woman, said her client, who was the first woman to accuse Arevalos of wrongdoing, wanted to be sure it never happened to another person.
"I think that this settlement sends a very loud messages about the tolls of this type of abuse of power takes on victims and society," Workman said. "And I think that her bravery and efforts have made a safer city.
City Attorney Jan goldsmith says $5.7M to come from insurance carriers, while $200K to come from city. pic.twitter.com/xAbQg2MHFA— Tarryn Mento (@TBMento) September 25, 2014
Arevalos, an 18-year veteran officer, was convicted in November 2011 of felony and misdemeanor charges involving five women he pulled over in the Gaslamp Quarter, including multiple counts of sexual battery by restraint, asking for a bribe, and assault and battery by a police officer. Now in prison, he was acquitted of other serious charges involving two women.
At Thursday afternoon's news conference, San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said Arevalos "brought shame" to the police department.
"His actions tarnished the good reputation of the more than 1,840 officers who work so hard to earn our community's trust," she said.
As a result of Arevalos' actions, Zimmerman said the department has instituted a mandatory reporting policy for officer misconduct and implemented body-worn cameras on at least 150 patrol officers. That number will grow to 300 within the next few weeks and to 600 by the beginning of next year, Zimmerman said, until all patrol officers are equipped with the cameras by the end of 2015.
Additionally, the department also re-instated its Professional Standards Unit, which Zimmerman described as "a proactive Internal Affairs."
The unidentified victim testified that Arevalos forced her into a convenience store restroom in March 2011 and demanded that she give him her panties and show her breasts. He also placed his finger in her vaginal area, she said.
Because of the nature of the officer's actions, city officials had feared that the woman could have won a large jury award if the case went to trial.
City Attorney Goldsmith said that in all the Arevalos cases combined, including 13 settlements and expenses, the city had to shell out around $4 million.
Lawyers first announced a tentative settlement almost two months ago, about two weeks before a trial was scheduled to begin.
The agreement was scheduled to be considered by the San Diego City Council in closed session at a special meeting set for Aug. 7, but no action was later reported in public. The case does not appear on any subsequent closed session dockets.