Deputy headed for trial on new set of on-duty assault charges

SAN DIEGO -- Richard Fischer, the sheriff's deputy accused of groping and sexually assaulting more than a dozen women he encountered while on duty, will go to trial for an added set of charges after several days of new testimony from his accusers.

Fischer already had a preliminary hearing earlier this year on charges involving 13 women, but prosecutors in August added the five new charges involving three more alleged victims. A judge said in a preliminary hearing Wednesday that there was enough evidence for a trial on the additional claims, setting the arraignment for Oct. 25.

Fischer, 32, first surrendered to authorities in February after allegations surfaced months earlier that he had allegedly groped or fondled 13 women. He was charged with sexual battery, assault and battery by an officer, and false imprisonment.

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

Defense attorney Manny Medrano has said the case boils down to a "he- said-she-said" situation and referred to the accusations as a "money grab."

Fischer faces more than 25 years behind bars if convicted of all charges.

A new round of testimony

A 51-year-old businesswoman testified that Fischer first responded to a 911 call at her living facility for people with mental health issues about 6 p.m. Dec. 31, 2016. She said Fischer and his partner told her the matter had been resolved and started to leave.

But Fischer came back in and said "Can I have a hug?" the woman testified.

Since it was New Year's Eve, "I didn't see any harm," the witness testified.

She said Fischer told her she was beautiful, then left.

The mother of three testified that Fischer returned in March 2017, coming into her garage which she used as an office for her business. The woman said Fischer asked to talk privately, told her that he wasn't married and asked for another hug.

"He was flirtatious," the witness testified, saying she told Fischer the hug was not appropriate.

The woman said Fischer returned sometime between March 27 and April 4 of last year as she was getting ready for bed.

"He said he wanted to talk to me about something important," she testified.

The woman said she let Fischer in, and he pushed her onto her bed and forced her to perform a sex act on him.

A 25-year-old woman testified that Fischer rubbed her thighs and put his hand between her legs as she sat in the back of his patrol car in shorts after a drunken driving crash into parked cars in September 2017.

A 46-year-old woman testified that Fischer groped her inside a motel room, where she had gone with her daughter after an argument at home.

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

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, Irving said.

When the woman asked Fischer what he was doing, he said "Don't tell anyone," according to the prosecutor.