SAN DIEGO (CN) – A police detective says the Imperial Police Department and its police chief failed to file her sexual assault case against a Border Patrol agent, and harassed her because she is a lesbian.
K.O. and her wife M. K. sued the city of Imperial and its police department in federal court on Jan. 20 on a host of civil rights and discrimination claims related to what they say was the department’s failure to investigate K.O.’s sexual assault by A.S., a Border Patrol agent.
Although both plaintiffs and the agent are named in the lawsuit, Courthouse News has chosen to redact their names because of the sensitive nature of the case and because the agent has not been charged with a crime.
K.O. says in her lawsuit that A.S. confessed to molesting her a year ago while she was sleeping after a night out with friends, but that Imperial Police Chief Miguel Colon did not submit the sexual assault investigation to the DA’s office for over 100 days.
Investigators did not gather any physical or biological evidence from the border patrol agent – including his blood alcohol content, according to the lawsuit.
The detective contends her case was not sent to the district attorney until she filed a right-to-sue claim with the state. The DA ultimately declined to prosecute the case, citing an unknown level of intoxication of the assailant, according to the lawsuit.
The agent has never been charged with any crime “despite confessing to the sexual assault,” the lawsuit states.
Not only is Colon accused by K.O. of failing to file the case, but her 18-page lawsuit claims the police chief called her superior at the Brawley Police Department and detailed her sexual assault in “an active effort to interfere with the case.”
She says he also attempted to “assassinate her character” when he painted K.O. as an “immoral and sexually deviant individual who was responsible for the attack that she suffered.”
“During his conversation with [K.O.’s] boss, Colon also accused [K.O.] of being immoral because of her sexual orientation. He further blamed [K.O.] for being victimized,” the lawsuit states.
K.O. says Colon’s actions violate state law which protects crime victims’ right to privacy and to be free from harassment.
She says her wife M.K. was also harassed when Colon called M.K.’s superior at the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office and divulged details about the investigation, after M.K. called the police department to get an explanation as to why her wife’s case had not been submitted to the district attorney.
K.O. says her sexual assault case was not promptly sent to the DA’s office for review after the investigation was completed, “contrary to standard procedure.”
When asked for comment on why the case took more than 100 to go to the DA, Colon wrote in an email that “some cases take longer to prepare for presentation to the district attorney and it’s important to get all relevant information available to the district attorney.”
The Imperial County District Attorney’s Office did not return a phone request for comment.
David Gammill of Geragos & Geragos in Los Angeles represents the plaintiffs. He said K.O.’s case was not sent to the DA’s office until the day she submitted her right-to-sue notice to the city. Gammill said his client talked to the Imperial police detectives working her case, and they said they had completed their investigation and did not know why it hadn’t been submitted to the district attorney’s office.
“There were no substantive steps left to take, which means someone decided the case was not going to the DA’s office,” Gammill said.
“The bizarre thing is when questions started to get asked about what was going on, their response was to pick up the phone and call both of [the plaintiffs’] commanding officers and call into question their morals and fitness to be officers. It’s how a crazy person behaves.”
Gammill said since he’s worked on the case, his law office has received calls from women in the Imperial Police Department who’ve said Colon does not treat all officers equally.
“He’s either got a problem with women or a problem with people in the gay community, but the calls we’ve received has made it clear he has a problem with women on the police force,” Gammill said.
Imperial is a desert town of about 15,000 situated just south of the Salton Sea and about 40 miles from Mexicali, Mexico.