Sex Assault Trial Begins for Former SDPD Officer

via LA Times

Lawyers presented opening statements last week in the trial of Anthony Arevelos, the former San Diego Police Officer accused of sexual assault while on duty. Prosecution claimed that Arevelos played a bribery game with each victim, while Arevelos’ defense attorney claimed the women made bad decisions while under the influence of alcohol.

“A prosecutor told a jury Thursday that a San Diego police officer played a game with several women in the Gaslamp Quarter when he stopped them on suspicion of drunken driving and offered to let them go in exchange for sexual favors.

It was “a game called, ‘What can you do for me?’” the attorney said on the first day of a San Diego Superior Court trial involving Anthony Arevalos, an 18-year veteran of the Police Department.

But one of Arevalos’ defense lawyers told the jury to consider all the evidence that would be presented to them, including that the alleged victims in the case were either under the influence of alcohol or drunk at the time of the traffic stops.

Two of those women were stopped again in recent months on suspicion of DUI.

“I’m not suggesting that just because a person gets a drunk driving (citation) they’re a bad person,” said Jan Ronis, one of two lawyers representing the former officer. “But we know that when people drink they make bad decisions.” Sign on San Diego, 20 Oct 2011.

Arevelos was fired in April by the San Diego Police Department and is on trial for 21 felony counts of sexual battery, asking for a bribe, and assault and battery by an officer. Seven women came forward with allegations of assault, mostly in the Gaslamp Quarter.

“Deputy District Attorney Sherry Thompson told the jury during her opening statement that as an officer in the traffic division, Arevalos could go anywhere in the city, but he chose the Gaslamp Quarter, which is known for its restaurants, bars and bustling night life.

She said Arevalos stopped a woman in the fall of 2009 who had made a wrong turn down a one-way street, then made a comment about her underwear while she was performing a field sobriety test. A breath test revealed she had a 0.15 or 0.16 percent blood-alcohol level, twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent for drivers in California.

The officer let the woman go, with a promise that he would return to her job for “a favor,” the prosecutor said.

Other incidents followed, in which the officer allegedly groped women and made inappropriate comments to them about their bodies or their clothing, Thompson said. Then in March, Arevalos stopped a woman who was leaving a Mardi Gras celebration in the Gaslamp area. A breath test revealed her blood alcohol content was a 0.08 or 0.09.” Sign on San Diego, 20 Oct 2011.

For more information, see our complete coverage of the Anthony Arevelos case.

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