UPDATE at 1:16 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016: The LAPD responds. Details are at the bottom.
Two Los Angeles Police Officers who were partners working in Hollywood have been charged with allegations of on-the-job rape, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced today.
The pair, 44-year-old James Nichols and 43-year-old Luis Valenzuela, were described in a DA's statement as “veteran” officers.
The charges include suspicion of forcible rape, rape under color of authority, oral copulation under color of authority and oral copulation by force, according to prosecutors.
Additionally, Valenzuela faces one count of suspicion of assault with a firearm after authorities said he pointed a gun at one of the women allegedly victimized.
The case spans December 2008, “after they became partners,” to March 2011, the statement alleges, and it involves four victims ages 19, 24, 25 and 34.
“The two men allegedly began sexually assaulting women at various locations, including in their police vehicle … ,” according to allegations put forth in the statement. “All four women were arrested at various times by the officers during narcotics-related offenses.”
Prosecutors said the cops were on duty during most of the alleged assaults.
Arraignment was scheduled for Thursday. The DA's office is asking for $3.83 million bail for Nichols and $3.76 million for Valenzuela.
Both face the possibility of life behind bars if successfully prosecuted.
The LAPD's investigation into the case was ongoing, the office stated.
The department had no statement for us but we assume, at the least, the pair has been sent home with pay while the inquiry continues.
UPDATE at 1:16 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016: In a statement this afternoon, LAPD said, “Both officers were previously relieved from duty.”
The department took credit for uncovering the allegations. “The charges stemmed from a Los Angeles Police Department investigation involving complaints against two officers,” it said.
The LAPD said its own investigation into the matter would continue.
“I will say again, any officer that abuses the public’s trust is not welcome in the LAPD and we will continue vigorously investigating officers accused of alleged crimes and cooperate fully with the District Attorney’s office,” said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.
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