VISTA, Calif. -- A preliminary hearing began Wednesday for a veteran San Diego County sheriff's deputy accused of groping a dozen women while on duty over the past several years.
Richard Timothy Fischer, 32, surrendered to authorities in late February before his arraignment on 14 charges, including assault and battery by an officer, sexual battery and false imprisonment. He faces 14 years in prison if convicted.
"I was in shock. I didn't know what to do," one alleged victim said in court Wednesday. The woman described the night she says Fischer responded to a domestic violence call at her home, embracing her in two uncomfortable hugs and later placing her hand on his crotch.
In a period from 2015 to 2017, the defendant is accused of fondling women during similar house calls or as he patted them down before a potential arrest.
Also testifying, a 52-year-old East County woman said she was riding a bike in El Cajon in 2015 when, for an unknown reason, Fischer stopped and questioned her, then asked her for a hug.
“(I) just let him do what he was asking, because I didn’t want to get in trouble," she said.
She claimed several weeks later in Lakeside, Fischer gave her a ride in his patrol car after citing her.
“Putting on the seatbelt, when he pulled his arm back down he rubbed across my breasts and he said, ‘I hope your boyfriend doesn’t mind,'" she said.
Fischer was placed on paid administrative leave when the first allegations against him came to light last October. The six-year veteran surrendered in February.
All of the alleged victims are expected to testify during the preliminary hearing, which is expected to last a week. When it's over, a judge will determine whether enough evidence was presented to order Fischer to stand trial.