2 LAPD officers charged with raping 4 women, mostly while on duty
Los Angeles Police Department officers James Nichols and Luis Valenzuela are being charged with repeatedly sexually assaulting four women, with most of the times happening when they were on duty, according to a statement from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
“These two officers have disgraced themselves, they’ve disgraced this badge, they’ve disgraced their oaths of office," LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said during a press conference Wednesday.
Nichols, 44, and Valenzuela, 43, worked as partners in LAPD's Hollywood Division, according to the statement. They allegedly began sexually assaulting women at different locations including in their police vehicle, according to prosecutors, beginning in December 2008 after they became partners and continuing through March 2011.
“We are actively seeking other victims, and I know they have made every effort that I would consider reasonable to find them,” Beck said.
Beck attributed the length of the investigation to the difficulty of locating witnesses and getting them to cooperate.
The four women they allegedly sexually assaulted were arrested by the officers during drug-related crimes, according to the statement. The women, at the time of the alleged assaults, were 19, 24, 25 and 34.
"These officers preyed on folks that are sometimes reluctant witnesses, reluctant victims. Sometimes they’re difficult to locate, unwilling to come forward,” Beck said.
Beck said that the behavior of Nichols and Valenzuela is a violation of public trust. He said that as soon as there was word that the district attorney would file charges against the officers in question, they were put under arrest by LAPD.
The men both face multiple counts of sexual assault including forcible rape, rape under color of authority, oral copulation under color of authority and oral copulation by force. Valenzuela has also been charged with one count of assault with a firearm for allegedly pointing a gun at one of the victims.
Nichols and Valenzuela face maximum sentences of life in prison.
They are set to be arraigned on Thursday. Prosecutors plan to ask for Nichols' bail to be set at $3.83 million and Valenzuela's to be $3.76 million.
Read the full complaint below:
This story has been updated.