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Deputy charged with sexually assaulting women while on duty

SAN DIEGO -- A veteran San Diego County Sheriff's deputy who prosecutors say groped and sexually assaulted at least a dozen women while on duty pleaded not guilty Thursday to felony charges of sexual battery and other crimes.

Deputy Richard Timothy Fischer, 31, is accused of sexually assaulting women who he had taken into custody, some of them while in handcuffs. One woman claims he assaulted her during a welfare check at her home.

Fischer turned himself in to authorities Thursday and was arraigned on 14 counts, including sexual battery, assault and battery by an officer and false imprisonment. Eight of the charges are felonies and six are misdemeanors.

Prosecutors said 12 women came forward and accused Fischer of assaulting them while in uniform. Investigators looked into the claims, which included reports that Fischer fondled women during pat-downs or rubbed their hands against his genitals.

The alleged crimes took place between May 2015 and October 2017.

Fischer was placed on paid administrative leave when the first allegations against him came to light last October. The six-year veteran was removed from paid-leave status last month.

The judge set Fischer's bail at $100,000, and he was led away to jail after the hearing. His preliminary hearing was set for May 2.

Shortly after the arraignment, the Sheriff's Department released a statement saying they "have dedicated significant resources to the investigation of these cases to ensure the findings were both objective and thorough.

"The Sheriff's Department has worked closely with the District Attorney and her staff throughout this process," the statement continued. "Our Department does not and will not tolerate actions such as those allegedly perpetrated by Richard Fischer. His payroll status was modified from paid administrative leave to unpaid leave pending the outcome of the investigation."