A woman pulled over by a former San Diego policeman accused of trying to elicit sexual favors from women he stopped in the Gaslamp District testified Monday that the officer put his hand down her pants and cupped one of her breasts three times as she was being arrested.
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Marjan Montazemi, testifying in the trial of Anthony Arevalos, said the officer pulled her over about 1:15 a.m. on Jan. 11, 2010, after she pulled out of a parking structure across from the Hard Rock Hotel, where she had been hanging out and drinking with her sister and some friends. (Click here
to read Montazemi's interview with 10News.)
The witness said Arevalos told her that he smelled alcohol on her breath and ordered her back to a corner by his patrol car, where he administered some sobriety tests.
Montazemi, who was 24 at the time, said she asked the officer if she could take off her high heels to do a walking test, and he responded, "No, you look good in them."
Arevalos told the woman she passed the walking and talking sobriety tests, but he had her blow into a breathalyzer twice, she testified.
After that, Arevalos told her that she was going on a ride with him and began to handcuff her, she said. When the woman resisted by offering the officer only one hand, he slid his hand down the back of her pants, touching her buttocks, she testified.
"He said, 'Easy, easy, you're in good hands,'" Montazemi testified.
After she offered her second hand to be handcuffed, Arevalos said, "You should have said, 'Officer spank me,'" saying that would have made the DUI arrest go away, she testified.
On the ride to police headquarters, Montazemi said she told Arevalos she was Persian and he responded, "No wonder you have big (breasts)."
The woman said Arevalos cupped her right breast three different times as she got in and out of his patrol car, and twice said "umm" as he touched her.
With help from the lead detective in the case, the witness demonstrated how the officer cupped her breast while taking her in and out of his patrol car and said the inappropriate touching was intentional.
Montazemi said Arevalos also said he liked her high heels.
"He said, 'I want you with nothing on but your shoes,'" the woman testified.
On the way to jail, she said Arevalos asked her where she lived and if she would party with him.
"He said, 'You girls seem like fun girls.' I said, 'This is all wrong.'"
When her sister picked her up from jail the next day, "I told her everything that he did to me," she testified.
She said she threw away the shoes she had on the night of her arrest. "I didn't want to look at those shoes ever again."
She told defense attorney Jan Ronis that she overheard officers talking about a .13 percent blood-alcohol level, but Arevalos never told her the results of her breath test.
Arevalos, 41, was with the San Diego Police Department for 18 years before being fired earlier this year when the charges -- including assault under the color of authority, sexual battery by restraint, false imprisonment and soliciting or receiving a bribe -- were filed.
He faces more than 19 years in prison if convicted of 21 felony counts.
The charges involve seven women who were stopped by Arevalos between September 2009 and March of this year.
Two women whose alleged experiences involving Arevalos are not reflected in the charges also testified today about being pulled over by the officer.
Mary Bracewell testified that Arevalos made comments about her legs and working out while administering a series of sobriety tests the night of Jan. 31, 2010.
When she tried to complete a breathalyzer test, Arevalos asked her to try again, telling her, "You should know how to blow," the woman testified.
"To me that was a sexual comment ...," Bracewell testified.
Another woman, Talia Tortora, testified that Arevalos gave her and her friend a ride home to Mission Beach on Jan. 2, 2010, after pulling her over because he said he saw her roommate urinate on the street.
Tortora said Arevalos gave her some field sobriety tests, and then told her she was under arrest and she could either take a breath test immediately or do it after being taken to jail.
The woman said she opted for the immediate breath test and Arevalos told her she passed. She said Arevalos then told her she was driving on a suspended license and wrote her a ticket.
When the woman said she'd call a taxi, Arevalos offered to take them home, and they accepted, she testified.
As they arrived in Mission Beach, Arevalos asked for some water, which Tortora went to get. She said when she came back outside, Arevalos was at her front door and asked to see her and her friend's rooms.
Tortora said no, but Arevalos made a comment about her roommate's dress, Tortora said.
"He said, 'I get a little bit more of a peek every time,'" the witness testified.
She said Arevalos also commented on her athletic legs and buttocks and stayed for almost an hour until she told him she had to get some sleep.
Before he left, Arevalos tore up the ticket he had written for driving on a suspended license, Tortora said.
"It was an inappropriate feeling, having him in our house," Tortora testified.
In her opening statement, Deputy District Attorney Sherry Thompson told jurors that the Gaslamp Quarter was a "board" for a game played by Arevalos -- "a game called 'What Can You Offer Me?'" -- and that he used his position of authority to barter and trade sexual favors from female alleged DUI offenders.
Ronis countered that jurors should keep an open mind because the women were under the influence of alcohol at the time, which "skewed" both their perception of events and their memories.
Also, several of the women have filed claims -- the precursor to lawsuits -- pending against the city -- and two of them have been arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence in separate cases since their allegations against Arevalos were made, Ronis said.
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