LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A 28-year-old Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy accused of raping and bribing two women while on duty three years ago made his first court appearance Wednesday.
Jose Rigoberto Sanchez, a seven-year veteran of the force, was ordered to remain jailed in isolation in lieu of $1.4 million bail while awaiting his Aug. 7 arraignment.
The suspect, who most recently worked out of the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station, faces 11 felony counts, including two counts of soliciting a bribe and one count each of kidnapping to commit another crime, rape by fear or duress, rape under color of authority, sexual penetration by a foreign object, sexual penetration under color of authority, sodomy by fear or duress, sodomy under color of authority, oral copulation by fear or duress and oral copulation under color of authority.
John C. Taylor, an attorney for one of the alleged rape victims, said she was pulled over in the desert by the deputy in Sept. 2010.
“He had her get into the back of the marked sheriff’s vehicle, took her to the middle of the desert, where he raped her,” he said.
Taylor added, “He brought her back to her own vehicle and then followed her home. The manner in which he did this, the area which she was taken, the aggressiveness with which he pursued her after the stop, leads us to believe there are other victims out there who were stopped by this deputy and inappropriately either questioned and/or had a bribe solicited from them by the deputy.”
Two nights after the first incident, Sanchez is also accused of stopping a second female motorist and soliciting sex from her.
A tip from an informant prompted a six-month investigation into the 2010 incidents. Sanchez was relieved of duty with pay. Taylor filed a lawsuit on behalf of his client against Sanchez and the county of Los Angeles in early 2011. Soon after, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office and the sheriff’s department started their own investigation. Sanchez, however, wasn’t arrested until Monday.
“Any deputy who abuses his power deserves to be investigated, and then when the evidence is there, prosecuted,” said Sheriff Lee Baca.
Taylor said these kinds of investigations take time.
“Those reasons for the delay are something that have to be addressed directly with the sheriff’s department or to the district attorney. We’re pleased that they’ve acted,” he said.