Home / America / Two LAPD Officers Worked Together To Rape And Sexually Assault Women Arrested For Narcotics, Finally Charged After Two Year Investigation
(Credit: Bob Chamberlin, LA Times)
(Credit: Bob Chamberlin, LA Times)

Two LAPD Officers Worked Together To Rape And Sexually Assault Women Arrested For Narcotics, Finally Charged After Two Year Investigation

Two veteran LAPD officers were arrested by detectives from the same police force on Wednesday and charged with a series of sexual assaults, most of which occurred while they were on duty.  The officers are expected in court on Thursday and are now held on more than $3.5 million bail.

Prosecutors allege that it is abundantly clear that the two officers, James Nichols and Luis Valenzuela were using their badges and power to sexually violate the four women they are suspected of assaulting.

Nichols and Valenzuela were assigned to be each other’s partners in 2008 and allegedly committed these crimes between 2008 and 2011.  Nichols had been on the force for 15 years and Valenzuela for 18.  Most of the assaults took place when the two were operating together as narcotics officers in the Hollywood division.  All of the victims had been arrested for narcotics related offenses and at least one had been a confidential informant.  In every case the officers threatened them with the law if they would not permit sexual acts and keep quiet.  The women were taken to a variety of locations including the unmarked police vehicle the two officers shared.

They have each been charged with multiple counts of sexual assault, including forcible rape, rape under color of authority, oral copulation under color of authority and oral copulation by force.

One victim alleges Valenzuela pointed a gun at her during the assault and he has also been charged with one count of assault with a firearm.

Detectives within the LAPD have been building their case against these officers for the last two years.  Since 2013 they have been on unpaid leave.

The LA Times spoke to Chief Charlie Beck Wednesday:

“These two officers have disgraced themselves, they’ve disgraced this badge, they’ve disgraced their oath of office.  I am extremely troubled by what they’ve done.”

Beck declined to say much about the investigation, but said the case included dozens of interviews, forensic analysis, long-term surveillance and search warrants. Detectives also retraced the officers’ movements, he said, checking prior contacts they had made and going to Hollywood in search of other potential victims.

Beck said investigators worked a difficult case, complicated by the fact that the officers “preyed on folks that are sometimes reluctant witnesses, reluctant victims.”

If convicted, Nichols and Valenzuela face life sentences in state prison.  This case has been slowly coming together since a woman came forward to report them to a supervisor on the LAPD in 2010.  We can only hope that the length of the investigation will yield solid evidence to bring justice to these women and any others who have not yet come forward.

More of this story at LA Times 

 

About Rebecca Lawrence

Rebecca Lawrence is a freelancer in Brooklyn, NY. She is owned by two blind cats. Tweet at her @rebeccalawrence

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