VISTA (CNS) - A San Diego County sheriff's deputy facing charges that he groped and sexually assaulted three women last year after meeting them on patrol was ordered today to stand trial on five felony counts, including forcible oral copulation.
The five latest charges against 32-year-old Richard Fischer were filed six months after he was charged with sexual battery, assault and battery by an officer and false imprisonment involving 13 women.
Fischer faces more than 25 years in prison if convicted of all charges. He has emphatically denied the allegations.
Defense attorney Manny Medrano has said the case boils down to a "he- said-she-said" situation. After a three-day preliminary hearing, Vista Judge Daniel Goldstein ruled that enough evidence was presented for Fischer to stand trial on the five new charges.
A 51-year-old businesswoman testified that Fischer first responded to a 911 call at her living facility for people with mental health issues about 6 p.m. Dec. 31, 2016.
She said Fischer and his partner told her the matter had been resolved and started to leave. But Fischer came back in and said "Can I have a hug?" the woman testified.
Since it was New Year's Eve, "I didn't see any harm," the witness testified. She said Fischer told her she was beautiful, then left.
The mother of three testified that Fischer returned in March 2017, coming into her garage which she used as an office for her business. The woman said Fischer asked to talk privately, told her that he wasn't married and asked for another hug.
"He was flirtatious," the witness testified, saying she told Fischer the hug was not appropriate. The woman said Fischer returned sometime between March 27 and April 4 of last year as she was getting ready for bed.
"He said he wanted to talk to me about something important," she testified. The woman said she let Fischer in, and he pushed her onto her bed and forced her to perform a sex act on him.
A 25-year-old woman testified that Fischer rubbed her thighs and put his hand between her legs as she sat in the back of his patrol car in shorts after a drunken driving crash into parked cars in September 2017.
A 46-year-old woman testified that Fischer groped her inside a motel room, where she had gone with her daughter after an argument at home.
Deputy District Attorney Annette Irving told Judge Daniel Goldstein at the end of a five-day preliminary hearing on the original charges earlier this year that Fischer "preyed" upon the alleged victims while on duty and in full uniform, mostly late at night.
Fischer asked the alleged victims for hugs, touched the breasts of some, and moved the hand of one woman over his crotch while they hugged for a third time, Irving said.
When the woman asked Fischer what he was doing, he said "Don't tell anyone," according to the prosecutor. At least 20 women have filed lawsuits against Fischer in civil court. He will be back in court on the criminal case on Oct. 25.