Attorneys: Officer Donald Moncrief's alleged victim targeted by prosecutors

Woman faces 3-count felony in another case

SAN DIEGO - Attorneys for the alleged victim of San Diego police Officer Donald Moncrief say the woman is being targeted by prosecutors.

The woman originally came forward and misidentified the officer as former SDPD officer Chris Hays, who was recently bound over for a trial on sexual assault charges.

At a police news conference in February, Moncrief became the accused when then-chief Bill Lansdowne talked about allegations of a trip to jail turned sexual.

Team 10 learned the woman who made those accusations was arraigned in a courtroom Thursday. She was in court on this day facing a three-count felony, including attempted auto theft.

The woman's attorney contends prosecutors clearly overcharged her, citing the judge's decision to toss out one count at a previous hearing.

"That's a rare statement for a judge to make and he was hemming and hawing that there was not enough evidence on another count," said Gretchen von Helms, the criminal attorney representing the woman.

The attorney representing the same woman in a possible civil suit is Dan Gilleon, who believes prosecutors don't want to be accused of striking a deal, even with an alleged victim -- instead playing hardball and sending a bad message.

"Women are already terrified to come forward and this makes it harder," said Gilleon.

Gilleon said in the Moncrief case, Moncrief parked in a residential area near the jail, touched himself and sexually assaulted her.

In a claim just filed by Moncrief's attorney against the city, it's a different story. His lawyers say the woman is gang member and an admitted drug-addict who was touching herself in the squad car.

"What is happening to Officer Moncrief is a travesty of justice. Officer Moncrief was an honorable Marine and is a stellar police officer, and now he has forever been publicly identified and condemned as a sexual predator without any opportunity to defend himself," said Cheryl Ruggiero, Moncrief's attorney.

According to the claim, the stop near the jail was to loosen the tight handcuffs.

"For him to say he's loosening a handcuff when he's a block away from a jail, that's absurd. It's against policy; cops don't do that," said Gilleon. "The police department believed her and recommended charges."

Prosecutors say the investigation is ongoing, but they have yet to charge Moncrief.

One possible reason: Moncrief's claim points out investigators initially told him they had semen in the backseat, but the sample did not turn out to be semen.

Moncrief remains on the force, pending the result of the investigation.

The San Diego County District Attorney's Office declined comment.

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