Woman Says L.A.-Area|Cop Molested Her

     LOS ANGELES (CN) — A Los Angeles-area police officer who faces 10 felony charges accusing him of molesting women now faces a civil lawsuit from a woman who says she was one of his victims.
     Jessica Ruiz sued the City of Monterey Park and its police Officer Israel Sanchez in Federal Court on Friday. Monterey Park is a city of 62,000 just east of Los Angeles.
     Sanchez, 40, was arrested in May and released on $345,000 bail. If convicted of all charges he could be sent to prison for eight years. He is scheduled to return to court at the end of August to set a date for a preliminary hearing, according to Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
     Ruiz says Sanchez pulled her over “without probable cause or reasonable suspicion” that she had committed a crime, then sexually molested her and threatened to send her to jail if she did not give in.
     The criminal charges accuse Sanchez of forcing three women to expose themselves and fondling two of them during traffic stops in a three-week period in mid-2014.
     Ruiz claims Sanchez “used his official powers and authority to unlawfully seize, detain and sexually assault … a vulnerable young woman and mother of two daughters, by using threats of arrest and violence.”
     After stopping her, Ruiz says, they recognized each other because he had arrested her previously on a drug charge. Sanchez told her to get out of her car and ordered her to “grab the lower portion of her bra and shake it so to determine if anything would fall out of the bra,” the lawsuit states.
     Then he made her remove her top and unfasten her pants, though “(i)t was clearly visible to Sanchez that plaintiff did not have any drugs in her pants,” according to the complaint.
     Sanchez put her in the back of his police car for nearly an hour as he searched her car and spoke with another officer who stopped by. After that officer left, Sanchez shut off his microphone and dashboard camera “because he needed to ‘talk to her,'” the complaint states.
     Ruiz says she was “crying and begged him again to let her go,” but he demanded she show him her breasts. “While plaintiff’s breasts were exposed, Sanchez sexually assaulted plaintiff by molesting her breasts,” according to the complaint.
     He followed that up by asking: “How do I know you don’t have any drugs ‘down there?'”
     Then he forced her to drop her pants and expose her genitals, which he fondled, then saying “that he did not get a good look,” he repeated the humiliating assault, the complaint states.
     Ruiz seeks punitive damages for violating her civil rights and the Constitution.
     Neither Ruiz’s attorney Preston Lim in Los Angeles nor Monterey Park’s outside city attorney, Mark Hensley in Burbank, returned calls seeking comment Monday.
     Sanchez’s criminal defense attorney, Douglas Miranda of Los Angeles, did not respond to a request to discuss the case. But at his client’s arraignment in May, Miranda described Sanchez as a decorated Marine veteran and married father of three. He told reporters Sanchez “is vehemently denying all the charges.”

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