County agrees to settle 2 sex-misconduct cases against veteran deputy

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SAN DIEGO - San Diego County will pay more than $400,000 to settle two lawsuits filed by women who say that a San Diego County Sheriff's deputy sexually assaulted them, but 13 other women have rejected settlement offers, it was reported Wednesday.

Deputy Richard Timothy Fischer, 32, was charged earlier this year with 14 crimes related to the allegations in the civil lawsuits. The charges against him include assault and battery by an officer, sexual battery and false imprisonment. He pleaded not guilty to the charges at an arraignment on Feb. 22 in Vista.

Criminal charges were filed against Fischer after 15 women sued the veteran deputy in separate civil lawsuits late last year and early this year. Fischer is accused of fondling women during pat-downs and rubbing their hands against his genitals.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that lawyers for the county have made settlement offers to all 15 women. Two of the women accepted the offers Tuesday, "In part, because they did not want to continue reliving the assaults, which is required in litigation," attorney Dan Gilleon told the newspaper.

"We received offers on all 15 cases, but these are the only ones we believe are in the ballpark," Gillian told the Union-Tribune. "The others are unrealistic."

The Union-Tribune reported that one woman accepted a settlement offer of $262,000, and another accepted an offer for $150,000, for a total of $412,000.

Fischer is free on bail in the criminal case, which could see him put in prison for 14 years if convicted. 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.

When the charges against Fischer were filed in February, Sheriff Bill Gore said news of the allegations were "devastating." The sheriff said that within a day of the initial complaint against Fischer, he was removed from field duty.

"When any deputy conducts himself in an inappropriate manner, it damages the trust the community has (in the department)," Gore said.

Once the initial complaints against Fischer came in, other women came forward with similar accounts, said interim District Attorney Summer Stephan. The county's top prosecutor said an internal investigation by the Sheriff's Department allowed her office to move quickly once they got the case on Jan. 22.

The charges against Fischer cover the period from 2015 to 2017, according to the criminal complaint.

The settlements reached Tuesday resolve all claims alleged by the two women, the Union-Tribune reported. The settlements do not admit any wrongdoing on the part of the county or Sheriff's Department.

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