Investigation of San Diego police culture reveals sexual posters, promotions, lawsuits

Team 10 questions if culture of liability exists

SAN DIEGO - A series of sexually suggestive posters hung in the San Diego Police Department's sex crimes unit in 2011, as Officer Anthony Arevalos patrolled the streets trading tickets for sexual favors.

Team 10 discovered the posters while investigating San Diego police culture now that another San Diego police officer is under investigation for sexually assaulting women while on duty. The posters' existence had been reported, but they had never been seen by the public until now.

Two of the posters make light of women victimized by the date rape drug rohypnol. Other posters celebrate sex acts, binge drinking and female anatomy.

SLIDESHOW: Racy posters found in SDPD headquarters

Two female sex crimes detectives are suing the department, claiming they were sexually harassed by colleagues in 2011. The lawsuit references the posters and an email titled, "The man test." The email asks a series of derogatory questions to determine if the person answering exhibits "homosexual tendencies."

"I did my part and it's time for the city to do theirs and clean this up," said one of Anthony Arevalos' victims, known only as "Jane Doe." She gave her only media interview to Team 10.

Doe testified against Arevalos during his criminal trial. Her civil lawsuit against the city of San Diego asks for independent oversight of the police department.

Her lawsuit predates accusations against Officer Chris Hays. Hays has been accused by six women of sexually assaulting them while on duty.

"This all could have been stopped years ago," retired San Diego officer Francisco Torres said in a deposition. Torres worked closely with Arevalos in the department's southern district.

Torres has said Arevalos' close relationship with his commanding officer, Lt. Rudy Tai, allowed him to remain unreported.

"They would go out and party together, go drinking, go bar hopping, go see women together," Torres said of the relationship. "Supervisors knew of his heavy handedness, of his way of dealing with things. They just turned the other cheek and walked away from it."

A police spokesman said Arevalos and another officer, Dan Dana, were investigated and arrested during Tai’s time with the sex crimes unit. The spokesman also said Tai was transferred to the unit after a complaint was filed on the racy photos.

Today Tai is the head of the criminal intelligence unit and reports to the chief, according to the department's organizational chart.

The latest officer under investigation, Hays, has a father-in-law who is a deputy chief. 

San Diego's city attorney has settled 12 lawsuits for a total of $2.3 million because of Arevalos' actions.

San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne has suggested arming every San Diego officer with body cameras. He declined Team 10's request for comment about police culture and liability.

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