California Police Officer admits to sexual assault while on duty
(CNN) A former California police officer accused of sexually assaulting a motorist during a traffic stop pleaded guilty in federal court, federal prosecutors said Friday.
Feliciano Sanchez, 34, admitted in court Thursday that while on duty on May 16, 2007, he pulled over a female driver in a traffic stop and forced her to perform oral sex on him, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Thomas O’Brien, who heads the office for the Central District.
Sanchez, then of Los Angeles County’s Bell Police Department, stopped the woman for speeding or weaving down the road, said central California U.S. attorney spokesman Thom Mrozek, citing court documents.
After learning the woman, identified as R.H. in court documents, did not have a driver’s license with her, Sanchez told her he suspected her of drinking and her car would be towed, Mrozek said.
Sanchez offered to drive R.H. to her job, but instead drove her to the parking lot of an auto repair outlet in Bell, Mrozek said.
Sanchez placed his hand on his gun and forced her to perform sex on him in his patrol car, Mrozek said. Afterward, Sanchez drove R.H. to her work place, Mrozek said.
“Officer Sanchez brutalized a person he had sworn to serve,” O’Brien said in the release. “As a result of his criminal conduct, Mr. Sanchez now faces a substantial amount of time in federal prison. His conduct eroded public confidence in law enforcement and cast a pall over his former colleagues who obey the law, proudly working to preserve public safety.”
Federal prosecutors charged Sanchez with a civil rights violation, according to the release.
The crime carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison upon sentencing. Sanchez has been held without bond since his arrest in May 2007, Mrozek said. Sanchez’s sentencing is scheduled for November 18.
Sanchez resigned as an officer after his indictment, Bell Police Department Capt. Anthony Miranda said. Miranda said Sanchez’s case was a first for the department.
“We were in shock, and actually, disbelief,” he said.