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“Do people hide drugs in their vagina?” Nicole managed to blurt out as the passing car distracted King. “Yeah,” the officer told her. “People hide balloons.” Nicole knew what was happening to her was wrong, but she later told a jury, “I didn’t feel I had the choice.” Her strategy for escaping was compliance. King then asked Nicole if he could look into her vagina. “I don’t know why I did this,” she testified. “I went to grab my dress to help him. I don’t know why I would do that. ... And at that time, I think a car passed by again.”
It was Marilyn again, finally getting up the courage to intercede. Parking her car out of sight, she crept nearby. Suddenly, the officer turned and looked directly at her. “When he made eye contact with me,” Marilyn testified, he instantly removed his hand from the motorist’s underpants. Marilyn jumped into her car, sped away and called 911.
After the assault, Nicole called her boyfriend on her cell but was too ashamed to tell him what had happened to her. He knew something was wrong. “She sounded strange,” Gelb testified. “She sounded — she didn’t really sound like herself.”
Today, Officer King sits in protective custody in a maximum-security state prison somewhere in California, from which he is aggressively pursuing an appeal. In a telephone interview with the Weekly, his friend John Kinney read aloud from a letter King sent him: “I’ve learned that I’m better liked when I’m seen, not heard. It took going to jail to realize that.” Kinney paused, then said, “He couldn’t keep his mouth shut.”
King’s lawyer, Gerson Horn, is arguing, in part, that Nicole’s MySpace page illustrates that she was sophisticated enough to know that King shouldn’t have shoved his fingers in her vagina — and that she therefore willingly gave her consent to be penetrated as King pinned her against a church wall in West Adams.
“Had the jury learned that in fact Nicole was sufficiently worldly to advertise on MySpace that she was a machine at night (contrary to her appearance as a panda bear in court during the day), that she thought that money was the root of all things, and that she was not naive about sex with someone, the verdict would have been different,” Horn wrote in his motion for a new trial one year ago.
The well-known, high-priced defense attorney who represented King at his 2008 trial, Bill Seki, did not call any witnesses to testify on his client’s behalf — a fact that King’s appellate attorney, Horn, has made a key part of his motion for an appeal. Today Seki still has no regrets, saying, “It was a strategic decision.” Right up to the guilty verdict, Ian King behaved as if he believed he wouldn’t lose. He acted haughty in court, and jested with the bailiff. Before the trial, he even bought a new Porsche convertible, Stone says.
Former Deputy D.A. Renee Korn kept in touch with Nicole, who has been contacted “numerous times” by King’s attorneys. In fact, private investigators for Gerson Horn “went to her job — it was the first [job] she got after graduation,” says Korn. The manner in which Horn’s private investigators “represented themselves was very misleading,” the prosecutor says. “When they were in the comforts of her office, it was — threatening. There’s a better word than threatening — frightening.”
Meanwhile, the seven politicians on the LAUSD Board of Education, who have the final authority over campus and schoolchildren’s safety, have yet to turn their attention to reforming one of the least-examined, least-transparent police departments in California. And if history repeats itself, the school board won’t do that now. It will simply find another chief.
Reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The original version of this article, published September 2, 2009, erroneously reported that former LAUSD Police Chief Wesley Mitchell was pressured to resign after thousands of downloaded porn images were found on his computers, and that the downloads were traced to his son, a high school teacher. In fact, Chief Mitchell retired in January 2002, but the allegations were not made until February 20, 2002, in a memo from Gwenn Perez, assistant chief of operations at the school police force, to acting Chief Richard Page. We regret the error.