How much, and how long ago, did the San Diego Police Department know about Anthony Arevalos abuse? That question, and more, will be answered in civil suits against the San Diego Police Department and Anthony Arevalos. But a comment by the judge presiding over the case led to several newspaper articles, meetings, clariffications, and finally, retractions.
The confusion started when Judge Jeffrey Fraser said, “Let’s face it. Everybody in the Police Department knew about this,” Fraser said. “He wasn’t living in a cave and then they turned on the TV.” [Source] At first hearing, the statement indicated that the judge thought the Police Department knew about the sexual abuse. In reality, the judge was making a statement about a police officer who had only recently come forward with claims that Arevalos had shown him a thong from one of the victims, as well as other allegations.
The witness, traffic officer Freddie Thornton, told prosecutors about three separate incidents: Arevalos once pulled a thong from the trunk of his squad car, flirted with a woman during a traffic stop and downloaded lewd photos from investigative files without permission.
Fraser didn’t allow Thornton to take the stand Thursday. He said prosecutors had already provided enough testimony and evidence showing similar unprofessional conduct and Thornton came forward too late in the trial.
On Friday, after we published Fraser’s statement, the judge clarified his comments during a bench conference outside the presence of the jury. Though Fraser didn’t refer to me in the courtroom, he said my interpretation was wrong.
The judge had made his statement while questioning both why the officer hadn’t come forward sooner and whether his testimony would add new information. Our story gave the impression he was referring to the latter.
But Fraser said he was referring to why it took so long for Thornton to step forward. Fraser had questioned why Thornton didn’t approach prosecutors before this week and noted that he had the opportunity because the investigation was big news in the Police Department and on television.
Fraser made it clear that he wasn’t saying the Police Department knew about the criminal allegations before this year. With one exception, he said: A detective who received a complaint two years ago and didn’t report it. [Source]
Why is this issue important? Because if it is proven that San Diego Police Department officials knew about the abuse and didn’t take action to remove Arevalos from his position as a traffic officer, they are culpable.. While it is clear that several fellow officers saw, and reported, red flags regarding Arevalos’ behavior, it is unclear how far the reporting went.
Several lawsuits against Anthony Arevalos and the City of San Diego are pending.
Here are a few articles to keep you updated on the Anthony Arevalos case:
At Least 18 DUI Cases Dismissed: Ex-Cop Anthony Arevalos unable to proceed as witness via NBC San Diego
Key Witness Testifies in Ex-Cop Sex Assault Trial via NBC San Diego
Sex Crimes Accuser Sharply Questioned via NBC San Deigo
Accused Cop Avoided Suspicion Among Colleagues via San Diego Union-Tribune
Ex-Cop Anthony Arevalos Will Not Take Stand in Own Defense via NBC San Diego
Former Cop Accused In Sex Case Begins Defense via San Diego Union-Tribune