City drops bribery claim against victim of predator cop

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SAN DIEGO – The San Diego City Attorney’s Office seems to be flip-flopping its stance regarding a victim in the federal lawsuit against a former San Diego police officer convicted of bribing and sexually assaulting women.

In 2011 Anthony Arevalos pulled over a woman, identified as “Jane Doe,” for drunk driving in the Gaslamp District. She later testified he told her he’d let her off the DUI if she gave him her panties. She said they went to a 7-11 nearby and she gave him her underwear in the restroom.

Ex-SDPD officer Anthony Arevalos was sentenced for bribing and sexually assaulting women he stopped in the Gaslamp District for drunken driving and other offenses. (2-10-2012)

“That’s where I took my pants off and took of the panties and where he had me pull my shirt up and where he touched me,” said Jane Doe.

In a recently filed motion for summary judgement, attorneys for the City of San Diego claimed Jane Doe was the one bribing Arevalos to avoid arrest.

The document reads, “Plaintiff bribed Officer Arevalos with her panties to get out of the DUI. Both Plaintiff and Arevalos agreed to consummate the bribe in a nearby 7-Eleven in the Gaslamp. Plaintiff then reported Arevalos to the SDPD. Plaintiff now claims that she was raped by Officer Arevalos.”

Attorney Dan Gilleon was shocked by the city’s claim.

“It’s a dangerous way to defend a case like this,” said Gilleon.

Gilleon represented eight of the other victims. His cases have all been settled.

“The jury is going to be asked to believe one of two people. Mr. Arevalos said she bribed me, and Ms. Doe says I didn’t bribe him. Who are they going to believe? The guy sitting in prison or the victim who was once called a hero?”

Thomas Mitchell, a spokesperson for the city attorney’s office, released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

“We think that it is important that people understand that it is the conduct of former police officer Anthony Arevalos that has placed the City in this unfortunate position. However, the City has stepped up to the plate and settled 12 of the 13 lawsuits it faced over Arevalos’ conduct and paid those victims a combined amount of $2.3 million. The city has engaged in good faith settlement negotiations with the current plaintiff and made a very generous settlement offer.  Unfortunately the lawyers in this case have demanded outrageous sums of money. Even though we condemn the actions of Arevalos, we also have an obligation to protect the taxpayers.  If we proceed to trial, the amount will be left to the jury after hearing all the facts.”

Gilleon said he believed the bribery stance would backfire.

“If you’re going to go to trial and you want to defend the taxpayers by all means, do that,” said Gilleon. “But don’t do it in a way that’s going to cost the taxpayers huge amounts of money and that’s what this is going to do. If you anger a jury because of the way you treat the victim, you’re going to be looking back on that outrageous settlement demand as a good deal.”

Late Wednesday afternoon the City Attorney’s Office changed its stance again, after Assistant City Attorney Paul Cooper said he reviewed the accusation of bribery.

“That accusation is contained in several sentences of a 40 page brief filed in connection with a motion before the judge,” Cooper wrote in a statement. “I determined that accusation was unnecessary and inappropriate in that is was Anthony Arevalos- not Jane Doe- who was convicted of a crime.  Accordingly, I have requested that the court strike reference to bribe. Rather than characterize or accuse, the City will rely upon undisputed factual evidence in addressing the pending motion.”

The next court hearing will take place February 7. Trial is expected to start May 20.

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