More charges were filed Wednesday against an 18-year veteran police officer who's accused of trying to elicit sexual favors from women during traffic stops in the Gaslamp Quarter and two more people claiming to be victims have stepped forward.
Eight new charges were levied against officer Anthony Arevalos, 40, Wednesday. He is now facing 18 criminal charges -- including false imprisonment, assault under the color of authority and sexual battery by restraint -- involving a current total of five alleged victims, after two more stepped forward Wednesday.
According to a filed complaint, Arevalos "touched an intimate part" of a woman -- against her will and while she was restrained -- during a traffic stop in the Gaslamp Quarter on January 10, 2010.
Arevalos is also now accused of accepting a bribe from a separate victim on September 28, 2009. Arevalos pleaded not guilty to the additional charges in court Wednesday.
Arevalos could have faced more than 11 years in prison before the new charges were brought on Wednesday.
During the officer's arraignment earlier in March, Deputy District Attorney Sherry Thompson told Judge David Szumowski that she planned to file more charges against the defendant involving a fourth woman.
The prosecutor said there could be as many as nine alleged victims. The ages of the current alleged victims range from 20 to 31, Thompson said.
" ... while it is still preliminary and early on in the investigation, we have identified the fact that many of these girls appeared to be students ... young women, who he attempts to identify what it is that they think is of value in their personal nature, asking them what they're working on, what they're studying, so that he can identify for them specifically that they do have a lot at stake," Thompson said outside court.
The prosecutor told the judge that Arevalos was on duty during the alleged crimes.
She said Arevalos made a DUI stop on a 31-year-old woman in the Gaslamp on March 8. When she registered above .08 percent on a DUI test, Arevalos asked the woman what she could offer him in exchange for making the charges go away, Thompson alleged.
The woman asked the officer what he wanted, and he said one woman had given him her bra and panties, the prosecutor alleged.
Arevalos told the DUI suspect that they needed to move to a separate location and escorted her to a 7-Eleven restroom, where he locked the door, took her panties, then sexually assaulted her before leaving, Thompson alleged.
The officer stopped a second alleged victim for an expired vehicle registration last Dec. 29. Arevalos told the woman he smelled alcohol and gave her a DUI test, which registered above .05 percent, the prosecutor said.
Because the woman was under 21, Arevalos detained her for being a minor under the influence of alcohol, Thompson said.
When Arevalos asked the woman what she would be willing to do to make the arrest go away, she told him she was willing to sleep in her car and have a friend pick her up, according to the prosecutor.
When that failed to resolve the issue, Arevalos told the woman they could go in a dark corner for 30 minutes or go in the back of his patrol car for 15 minutes, Thompson alleged.
The woman declined, and when another officer arrived, she was given a citation, the prosecutor said.
Thompson alleged that Arevalos sexually assaulted a third woman he stopped on suspicion of DUI last Oct. 22 in the Gaslamp.
During the 90-minute stop, Arevalos stood or crouched in the doorway of the woman's car and asked what she was willing to do to get out of the DUI, Thompson alleged.
The woman refused to take a DUI test, and Arevalos began poking her breast with his finger, the prosecutor alleged.
Arevalos allegedly put his hands down the woman's pants and she showed him her breasts at his request before he called her a cab, Thompson said.
Authorities have also reopened an investigation into a similar complaint against Arevalos made by a woman in February 2010, Thompson said.
Arevalos -- who is free on $200,000 bail -- was placed on unpaid suspension while the criminal case against him is investigated, authorities said.
Defense attorney Philip Gagnon said the case was short on facts and police enlisted the media's help to get women to come forward when they realized their case was weak.
In 1997, the District Attorney's Office cleared Arevalos in the wounding of Laura Pinon, 18, of San Ysidro, who pointed a fake gun that looked like an Uzi at some passing cars, including police.
Arevalos could face 16 years, 8 months in prison if convicted on all 18 charges.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 6, 2011.
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