SAN DIEGO — A former San Diego police officer who assaulted and illegally detained four women while on duty was sentenced Friday to one year in jail and three years probation.
Christopher Hays, 30, was ordered to report for custody next Friday.
Hays, who is married with two sons, pleaded guilty Aug. 22 to false imprisonment and misdemeanor counts of assault and battery under the color of authority by a peace officer. He did not admit any acts of a sexual nature. Before the plea bargain, Hays — who was free on $130,000 bail — was looking at almost four years in prison if convicted.
He broke down and put his head in his hands as Judge Charles Rogers announced the sentence. The defendant’s wife screamed when she heard the sentence and sobbed uncontrollably as she left the courtroom. She had a physical and emotional breakdown outside the courtroom and an ambulance was called to treat her.
Before he was sentenced, Hays tearfully apologized to the victims and his family for the pain he caused, saying “It’s not something I’m very proud of.”
The judge said he was disturbed by the fact that after pleading guilty, Hays told a probation officer that “he didn’t do anything wrong.” Rogers noted Hays’ lack of insight into what happened while acknowledging the defendant’s good qualities.
The judge said the defendant’s victims must have felt “helpless” when confronted by a police officer sworn to protect them.
“I think punishment is warranted,” the judge said.
Three women testified in April that they were groped and forced to perform inappropriate acts after being contacted and searched by the four-year SDPD veteran, who resigned the day after he was charged in February.
A fourth woman also said Hays groped after her arrest for shoplifting, according to SDPD Detective Cory Gilmore.
“Please protect me. He (the defendant) has to know what he did was wrong,” Jane Doe 1 wrote in a letter to the judge.
Another woman, identified as Jane Doe 4, told the judge she has trouble sleeping in her own bed after Hays followed her to her apartment and had her expose her breasts and told her to touch his groin.
“He’s a disgrace to the uniform,” she said.
Deputy District Attorney Annette Irving said Hays was banking on the notion that his victims would never tell what he did to them.
Defense attorney Kerry Armstrong said Hays — a former Marine who served in Iraq — did a lot of good and was “not going around trying to victimize people.”
“He’s the kind of guy who will give you the shirt off his back,” Armstrong said. “He’ll do anything to help people.”
Hays’ sentencing came one day after the City Attorney’s Office announced the city would pay $5.9 million to settle a federal lawsuit filed by one of the victims of former Officer Anthony Arevalos, who was convicted of groping women he stopped in the Gaslamp Quarter and was sentenced to prison.