LOS ANGELES (CN) – A Santa Maria police officer raped a teenager in the city’s Police Explorer program and threatened to kill her family if she told anyone, then was shot to death by a fellow officer who was trying to arrest him, the girl claims in court.
Jane Doe, a minor, sued the City of Santa Maria; the widow of her alleged rapist, the late police Officer Albert Covarrubias Jr.; and police Sgt Flaa, in Federal Court.
Doe claims that Covarrubias “embarked upon a nefarious scheme to intimidate and rape” her between Dec. 31, 2011 and Jan. 29 this year.
She says Covarrubias “used the Explorer Program as a means to achieve sexual gratification. The Explorer Program provides police officers, such as Covarrubias, with access to vulnerable young children. Using the Explorer Program, police officers such as Covarrubias are able to spend time with their target victims, and build relationships of trust that will enable them to manipulate their victims to enter into sexual relationships while maintaining secrecy.”
Doe says Covarrubias was her supervisor when he raped her.
“The City of Santa Monica allowed Covarrubias, to take Jane in a police vehicle late at nights as law enforcement related-functions such as DUI checkpoints. Use of a police vehicle required the pretense of performing official duties. Covarrubias drove Jane, in the course and scope of his employment with the City of Santa Maria, and started to intimidate and harass her by attempting to engage in unwanted sexual advances. Covarrubias was usually dressed in his official police uniform and had his police department issued weapon to add to the coercion he could exert over Jane,” the complaint states.
She claims the Police Department knew about Covarrubias’s predatory behavior, but did nothing to protect her from sexual harassment, battery, and rape.
“Covarrubias raped Jane on a number of occasions,” the complaint states. “Covarrubias told Jane that if she did not sleep with him that he would kill Jane’s boyfriend and her family. Covarrubias emphasized that as a police officer he would be able to get away with it. Further, he would be protected by his fellow officers and the Santa Maria Police Department. His previous wife died under unusual circumstances that the Santa Maria Police Department were aware of but failed to investigate.”
She claims that “Covarrubias was armed with his service weapon each time he threatened her.” And, she says, “Even after the city was formally alerted about the sexual molestation of Jane, it failed to act immediately. As a result, Jane was raped before the department took any action.”
According to the complaint: “On or about January 28, 2012, Sgt. Flaa ordered Jane to engage in a pretext call to Covarrubias as part of the city’s belated investigation into Covarrubias. Hence, Flaa and the city were using Jane for law enforcement purposes. Under orders from Flaa and the city, Jane spoke to Covarrubias on the telephone. Covarrubias admitted he had engaged in inappropriate, sexual relations with Jane.
With the information obtained by Jane, Flaa and the city proceeded to arrest Covarrubias. In the course of the arrest, Covarrubias was shot and killed by Officer Kline in self-defense.”
She adds: “The Santa Maria Police Department purposefully, and intentionally, cultivated an atmosphere whereby officers would not report their own wrongful conduct, would not report other officers’ wrongful conduct, and wherein officers would be severely disciplined and retaliated against for reporting the wrongful conduct of other officers. This atmosphere was so entrenched, or ingrained in Santa Maria Police Department so as to constitute a policy of the Santa Maria Police Department.”
She seeks punitive damages for sexual harassment, negligence, deliberate indifference and civil rights violations.
She is represented by Terry Goldberg with Goldberg & Gage, of Woodland Hills.