City to pay $5.9M to woman assaulted by predator cop

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SAN DIEGO -- A woman who claimed a San Diego police officer demanded sexual favors from her in a convenience store restroom settled her federal lawsuit against the city for $5.9 million, lawyers on both sides of the case announced Thursday.

A little over half of the settlement amount will go to the attorneys for the woman identified only as "Jane Doe,'' who was lauded for being the first victim to step forward and accuse Anthony Arevalos of wrongdoing.

The 18-year veteran officer was convicted in November 2011 of felony and misdemeanor charges involving five women he pulled over in the Gaslamp Quarter, including multiple counts of sexual battery by restraint, asking for a bribe, and assault and battery by a police officer. Now in prison, he was acquitted of other serious charges involving two women.

"Jane Doe was the courageous victim whose report of Arevalos' misconduct led to his arrest and conviction,'' said Mitch Dean, an attorney who represented the city of San Diego and its insurance carriers. "Part of her motivation for her lawsuit was so that no one else would be a victim of Arevalos, or an officer like him.''

The woman testified that he forced her into a convenience store restroom in March 2011 and demanded that she give him her panties and show her breasts. He also placed his finger in her vaginal area, she said.

Because of the nature of the officer's actions, city officials had feared that the woman could have won a large jury award if the case went to trial.

Instead, the city's insurance carriers will pick up around $5.7 million of the settlement, leaving the city to pay around $200,000, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said. He said that in all the Arevalos cases combined, including 13 settlements and expenses, the city had to shell out around $4 million.

The plaintiff did not appear at a news conference to announce the details of the settlement because of concerns about her privacy, said one of her lawyers, Linda Workman.

"I think this settlement sends a very loud message about the toll that this type of abuse of power takes on victims and on society,'' Workman said. "I think that her efforts and her bravery have made a safer city.''

Lawyers first announced a tentative settlement almost two months ago, about two weeks before a trial was scheduled to begin.

The agreement was scheduled to be considered by the San Diego City Council in closed session at a special meeting set for Aug. 7, but no action was later reported in public. The case does not appear on any subsequent closed session dockets.

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