Deputy back in court facing new round of sex assault allegations

SAN DIEGO -- A San Diego County sheriff's deputy already facing claims that he groped 13 women while on duty appeared in court again Friday, wearing a green jumpsuit and facing new charges from three new victims.

Richard Fischer, 32, did not enter a plea on the new counts and his arraignment was postponed until Aug. 27. The deputy was being held on $2 million bail, which he posted late Friday.

The new accusations against Fischer include three counts of assault by a public officer, a forcible oral copulation charge and a burglary charge.

Read the new charges filed against Richard Fischer

Fischer faces 10 years and eight months if convicted of the new charges, according to the District Attorney's Office, and an additional 14 years and eight months behind bars if found guilty of the previously filed charges of assault and battery by an officer, sexual battery and false imprisonment.

Last month, Fischer spoke publicly for the first time about the case against him, telling reporters at the San Diego Central Courthouse that the charges are false.

"These charges are simply untrue. I vigorously deny them," he said, with his wife and his new attorney, Manny Medrano, by his side.

The deputy said he served eight years in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and was deployed to Afghanistan. Fischer said he has made more than 700 arrests during his time in law enforcement.

"It's not just a job, it's a calling," Fischer said of his work as a sheriff's deputy.

Fischer said he and his wife pray every night that his good name will be cleared.

"I'm innocent until proven guilty," Fischer told reporters. "Don't convict me on innuendo."

Nineteen women have filed lawsuits against Fischer in civil court, alleging that he assaulted them while on patrol.

Medrano could not be reached for comment on the latest developments in the case. But he said last month that the case boiled down to a "she said, he said," with no eyewitness, no confession from Fischer, and "significant" credibility problems with alleged victims. He also said Fisher and his wife have been happily married for four years and are united as they fight through their "nightmare."

Deputy District Attorney Annette Irving told Judge Daniel Goldstein at the end of a five-day preliminary hearing earlier this year that Fischer "preyed" upon the alleged victims while on duty and in full uniform, mostly late at night.

"He had the authority to detain these women," the prosecutor said. "He had power over these women, who were all vulnerable. These women needed help, not sex."

Fischer asked the alleged victims for hugs, touched the breasts of some and moved the hand of one woman over his crotch while they hugged for a third time, according to Irving.

"She said, `What are you doing!" Irving told the judge. "He tells her, `Don't tell anyone."'

Fischer's attorney at the time, Richard Pinckard, questioned the credibility of many of the alleged victims and said many had felony convictions.

Pinckard and defense attorney Chris Kowalski previously argued that the women had consented to letting Fischer hug them.

Kowalski said the hugging of one woman was not appropriate, "but is it criminal?"

"It doesn't look good, but it's not a crime," the attorney told the judge.

Goldstein ruled that enough evidence was produced during the hearing for Fischer to stand trial. The judge said the women were the victims of mental and psychological coercion. He said all of the alleged victims were down on their luck and fearful of reporting what happened to them.

Goldstein said he didn't believe the women consented to Fischer hugging them.

"They couldn't adequately fight him off," the judge said.

Fischer surrendered to authorities in late February before his initial arraignment. He 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 in January.