A San Diego police officer charged with 18 felonies was fired, although he is still awaiting trial, the San Diego Police Department announced Friday.
Officer Anthony Arevalos, an 18-year veteran of the SDPD, was arrested March 11 after a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her during a traffic stop in the Gaslamp Quarter as the woman drove home from the Mardi Gras celebration on March 8.
The woman told police Arevalos took her to a nearby 7-Eleven store where he fondled her in a bathroom and asked for her underwear.
Four other women came forward and accused Arevalos, 40, of trying to elicit sexual favors during traffic stops in the same area.
Arevalos has pleaded not guilty to 18 felony counts, including sexual battery, false imprisonment, assault under color of authority and accepting a bribe.
If convicted, he could be sentenced to more than 11 years in prison.
He had been suspended from the department and placed on administrative leave without pay for a month before being terminated.
When asked how he can fire Arevalos without a criminal conviction, San Diego Police Chief Bill Lansdowne replied, "I think that the internal review that we made warrants the termination at this particular time, but it's a personnel matter and I can't say much more about it."
Former San Diego District Attorney Paul Pfingst told 10News, "Whenever the police chief is not waiting until the conclusion of criminal charges, it tells us that the police chief is very confident in the amount and the quality of the evidence against his officer."
Pfingst added, "What this tells us is that the chief is very confident that the Civil Service Commission would never return this man to his job as a police officer."
Attorney Kerry Armstrong, who represents two of the five alleged victims, told 10News he's happy with the chief's decision.
"I don't think anyone like that should be on the police force. I think the police force did exactly what they needed to do," he said.
Armstrong spoke to 10News after telling one of his clients about Arevalos' termination.
"She's very happy that he's no longer on the force," said Armstrong. "She came forward because she didn't want anybody else to be victimized like she was."
Arevalos' attorney, Jan Ronis, was unavailable for comment.
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