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2 LAPD officers accused of sexual misconduct

January 4, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Two veteran Los Angeles Police officers are under investigation for possible sexual misconduct against several women.

According to a lawsuit filed against the city Thursday, two narcotics officers had forced a woman who was a drug informant to perform sexual acts and have sex with both of the officers on separate occasions. The lawsuit also states the officers threatened the woman with jail time if she did not comply with their demands.

The LAPD confirms that the two officers accused are veteran detectives who investigated drug dealers out of LAPD's Hollywood Station.

"They were assigned to a narcotics unit and several women have come forward and made allegations of sexual misconduct starting back in 2010," said LAPD Commander Andy Smith.

The LAPD is withholding details, including the names of the officers, until an Internal Affairs investigation is complete. But one alleged victim who says she worked for the officers as a drug informant gave her account in a lawsuit filed Thursday.

She says that detectives James Nichols and Luis Valenzuela forced her to have sex, promising in return they would keep her out of jail.

"These sex acts happened in the departmental issued undercover car, a Volkswagen Jetta, which interestingly is specifically mentioned by another victim, who has come forward," said the woman's attorney, Dennis Chang.

His client alleges four incidents in all.

"They happened in my client's apartment at 3 o'clock in the morning when the detectives showed up unannounced and uninvited, drunk, basically telling my client, 'You haven't done enough, what else can you do for me?' And they end up in sexual relations," said Chang.

The alleged victim ultimately was arrested for a cocaine offense and identity theft. She said she was interviewed by Internal Affairs investigators at Twin Towers Jail as she serves her sentence.

The city is also named in her lawsuit. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pledged a vigorous investigation Friday.

"Both the Chief and I, if the charges are true, are absolutely appalled, and there will be consequences," said Villaraigosa.

In the meantime, Chang acknowledges that the credibility of his jailed client will be questioned. But he says investigators will find key evidence in her cellphone, which they seized: salacious text messages from the detectives, which she did not welcome.

"Quite to the contrary that there is going to be no messages indicating her willing participation in these acts at all," Chang said.

If proven true, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck says criminal charges will be filed.

"I am shocked and saddened by these allegations of criminal misconduct," Beck said. "We will investigate this matter thoroughly and if proven true, we will prosecute the officers both administratively and criminally."

The LAPD says Internal Affairs is investigating the allegations. The two officers are home on administrative leave.


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