San Diego City Council approves settlements for 2 victims of ex-SDPD officer Anthony Arevalos

Marjan Montazemi to receive $170K

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego City Council signed off Tuesday on two additional settlements involving lawsuits filed by victims of a former police officer who was sent to prison for demanding sexual favors from female drivers in the Gaslamp Quarter.

Without comment, the council settled with one woman for $170,000 and another for $75,000. The vote came as part of the council's consent agenda.

The woman to receive $170,000 testified that ex-Officer Anthony Arevalos cupped her breasts three times during a January 2010 traffic stop. The other woman testified that she suffered a panic attack when the 18-year veteran officer stopped her as she stumbled to her car and made suggestive remarks in January 2011.

Their settlements pale in comparison to a $675,000 payout approved for a third woman last month. She testified that Arevalos pulled her over around 2 a.m. on Oct. 22, 2010, and asked if her breasts were real. She said Arevalos told her that if she showed her breasts and let him put his hand down her pants, he would let her go, so she stared straight ahead and let him reach into her jeans and touch her private parts.

The officer was convicted of eight felony and four 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 sentenced to nearly nine years in prison.

Arevalos victim satisfied with settlement agreement

After a criminal jury sided against her and in favor of Arevalos, there is a feeling of satisfaction for Marjan Montazemi after nearly three years of pain.

"It feels good," Montazemi told 10News Tuesday.

"I still put a couch behind my door," said Montazemi, noting that she still lives in fear.

Her fear began when Arevalos pulled her over. In court, she testified the now-former officer molested her in and out of the patrol car after she left the Hard Rock Hotel in downtown San Diego in January 2010.

While Arevalos was eventually convicted on eight felony counts of fondling women at traffic stops, the jury acquitted Arevalos on all counts related to Montazemi.

After the verdict, Montazemi told 10News she was upset, but glad Arevalos was going away. She admitted the verdict gnawed at her.

"It's hurtful, that [they] didn't believe me at all. I put my heart out there," said Montazemi.

Jurors said they were bothered by issues like her reported .12 blood-alcohol level.

Montazemi believes Arevalos fabricated those results, and her attorney said Montazemi's language barrier may have hurt her.

Still, they filed a civil suit against San Diego police and the city.

On Tuesday, the City Council signed off on a $170,000 settlement with Montazemi.

"With this settlement the city is saying yes, he is guilty, and that's what I want to hear," said Montazemi's attorney Dan Gilleon.

Gilleon said even though the burden of proof is less in a civil case, the verdict in the criminal case was a potential problem.

"Certainly, it created a hurdle. It created an obstacle … I do believe the not guilty verdict cost her some money," said Gilleon. "Still, it's a vindication because it shows the city believes what she has to say. The county -- prosecutors called her to testify -- believed her, and so did police."

Money, said Montazemi, has always been second to sending a message. She also talked about the biggest benefit of the settlement.

"Honestly, I just wanted this whole situation to be over with. I don't want to be constantly thinking about it," said Montazemi.

Gilleon who represents eight of the Arevalos victims in civil cases, has settled for a total of $1.2 million.

The city attorney's office declined comment.

 

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