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Victim opens up about former sheriff's deputy's sexual misconduct

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Posted at 10:30 AM, Jan 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-02 13:33:36-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A woman who was assaulted by a former sheriff's deputy wanted to reveal her identity to 10News and share her story as she gets ready to head to court once again.

Shelly Howell is suing Richard Fischer and the County of San Diego for the assault that happened in 2017. In the complaint, she claims they were responsible for intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, sexual assault and battery, among other violations.

Howell told 10News if the sheriff's department or county would have responded to a prior complaint about the ex-deputy in 2016, she would have been safe a year later.

"That was the most frustrating part of it all," said Howell. "How it got swept under the rug and buried. Covered up and buried."

According to a civil complaint, Howell was touched inappropriately on her genitals by Fischer during a traffic stop. She had a meth pipe in her pocket and he didn't cite her for it. According to the complaint, he told her to "get rid of it" then proceeded to ask her if she wanted to "make out" with him. He then left abruptly.

"It was difficult," she said. "It's been difficult throughout this whole period."

Earlier this month, Fischer was sentenced to three years and eight months in jail, plus 16 months of mandatory supervision once he's released. He pleaded guilty to four felonies and three misdemeanors, including one against Howell. The charges were for assault and battery, and also false imprisonment.

None of the charges were specifically sex crimes, but they were tied to the sexual misconduct against 16 women. The women reported that Fischer groped, hugged, or tried to kiss them while on-duty responding to 911 calls or traffic stops.

Now that the criminal case is over and Fischer is serving his time, Howell's civil lawsuit, as well as other victim suits, will move forward. Several other victims have already settled with the county.

Howell chose to share her story to reach other women who have gone through similar situations.

"Don't be fearful and don't hold back," she said. "Go to whoever you have to, to be heard."

10news received the following statement from a Sheriff's department spokesperson in response to the complaint against its former employee.

"The Sheriff's Department takes allegations of wrongdoing by employees seriously. Reports of misconduct are always looked into and investigated when warranted. Criminal or immoral conduct is not tolerated. If found in violation, employees are held accountable for their actions."