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Two LAPD Officers Charged With Raping Multiple Women While On Duty
Two LAPD officers have been charged with sexually assaulting four women, frequently while on duty. James Nichols, 44, and Luis Valenzuela, 43, have both been charged with assaulting four different women numerous times between 2008 and 2011, according to a release from the L.A. County District Attorney's office. Both have been charged with rape under color of authority, forcible rape, oral copulation under color of authority and oral copulation by force. Valenzuela is also charged with one count of assault with a firearm for allegedly aiming a gun at one of the women. If convicted, they could both face life in prison.
The pair worked as partners, and both had been on the force for over a dozen years. The duo allegedly arrested the women—ages 19, 24, 25 and 34—at different times for drug-related offenses. A majority of the assaults happened while the officers were on duty, and occurred in various locations, including in the officers' patrol car.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said in a statement issued today by the LAPD, "I will say again, any officer that abuses the public's trust is not welcome in the LAPD and we will continue vigorously investigating officers accused of alleged crimes and cooperate fully with the District Attorney’s office."
According to Mother Jones, a woman who was arrested on drug charges by the pair in 2009 said that the men continued to get in touch with her after the arrest. She said she was taking her dog for a walk in Hollywood when the two pulled up next to her and demanded she get in the car. Once she did, she alleged that the pair drove her to a remote area and that Valenzuela got in the backseat and told her, "If you don't suck my dick, you're going to jail." She said the officers then told her not to tell anyone and said they would buy her a ticket to Las Vegas if she agreed not to return to Los Angeles.
The woman said she reported what happened in 2011, but was given the runaround and told repeatedly not to speak with an attorney. Notably, the two officers were not suspended until January of 2013.
According to a search warrant affidavit obtained by the L.A. Times, a woman who was working as an informant for the Hollywood Narcotics Unit in 2008 stated that in November of that year, the pair stopped her while she was walking in Hollywood. Valenzuela allegedly got into the backseat with her, exposed himself and asked her to touch him.
The affidavit also mentions a woman who, in 2005, was detained for prostitution. She claimed that Nichols took her in his patrol car to a remote location, uncuffed her and exposed himself. She said that he didn't instruct her to do anything, but she got the impression that he wanted her to perform oral sex on him, so she did. When she was finished, she said Nichols released her. This same scenario allegedly played out a second time in 2011.
Other allegations include both officers, at separate times, having sex with women in hotels, the back of their patrol car or at the women's homes after indicating the women might go to jail otherwise.
One of the women was awarded a $575,000 settlement in January of 2014, the L.A. Times reports.