The Los Angeles District Attorney released a statement today, indicating that two LAPD officers will be charged with repeatedly sexually assaulting four separate women.
The officers, James Nichols (44) and Luis Valenzuela (43), are alleged to have committed the sexual assault while working as partners between 2008 and 2011. The two worked as undercover narcotics officers, and their alleged victims were between the ages of 19 – 34.
The officers are charged with the follow:
- Multiple counts each of sexual assaults, including:
- Forcible rape
- Rape under color of authority
- Oral copulation under color of authority
- Oral copulation by force
The allegations initially came to light in 2009, and again in 2011; however, the LAPD spent nearly three years “investigating” the case:
When [one of the alleged victims] reported the incident to the LAPD in January 2011, the suit alleges that “she was stonewalled and strung along for nearly three years by an LAPD Internal Affairs detective who mixed false promises that the officers would be brought to justice with a repeated command: Don’t talk to a lawyer.” The complaint continues, “[Internal Affairs was] only interested in keeping her quiet and burying the case.”
The parallels to the recent Daniel Holtzclaw case are downright chilling. Nichols & Valenzuela are being accused of using their positions of power to coerce women into sexual acts. They are alleged to have targeted victims that juries might find untrustworthy: all the women had been arrested by Nichols/Valezuela for drug-related crimes, and one was a sex worker. In November of 2013, Nichols’ attorney said that the women “have no credibility.”
Last December, Daniel Holtzclaw was sentenced to 263 years in prison (although people are still tripping over themselves to write sympathetic think pieces about him). If convicted, Nichols and Valenzuela could potentially face similar punishment.
Featured Image by John Liu