Judge throws out Jane Doe claims against San Diego Police Department

SAN DIEGO - A federal judge dismissed a woman's claims against nine past supervisors of former police officer Anthony Arevalos in the San Diego Police Department, including former Police Chief William Lansdowne.

Arevalos is currently serving time for sexually assaulting and harassing women during DUI traffic stops in the Gaslamp District. He was sentenced to nearly nine years in prison.

One of Arevalos' victims, known only as "Jane Doe" to protect her identity, contends that Arevalos' police supervisors covered up his repeated misconduct, thereby violating her constitutional rights.

United States Federal District Judge Michael M. Anello dismissed Doe's claims, citing a lack of evidence.

Statement from the City

The ruling does not change the fact that the City of San Diego is responsible under the law for Arevalos' misconduct while on duty, regardless of the fact that SDPD could not have prevented it. Plaintiff's attorneys, however, had sought to broaden the scope of the trial scheduled for May to include the claims which are the subject of Judge Anello's ruling. The ruling narrows the scope of the trial.

"The upcoming trial is about what injuries Jane Doe suffered and how much she should be awarded," said City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, who pointed out that the City settled with the other 12 victims because the City understands its legal responsibility. "She says she fears being outside because of the incident, for example, and should be awarded damages for that. We want the jury to see all the evidence and set a reasonable amount for whatever injuries they find she, in fact, suffered. That's what the case is about."

The decision does not change the City's commitment to an independent federal review of SDPD's processes. "The federal review is not about legal liability. We want to know how SDPD can do better," said Goldsmith. "We want SDPD to meet a standard of excellence and we want people to have confidence in our police officers."

The Back Story

Arevalos was convicted in November 2011 of felony and misdemeanor charges involving five women, including multiple counts of sexual battery by restraint, asking for a bribe and assault and battery by a police officer. He was acquitted of other serious charges involving two other women.

Two of the convictions were overturned last month. Arevalos's attorneys are also seeking a new trial because handwritten notes from Doe, who is the main accuser, were not turned over to the defense.

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