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Former Bell police officer sentenced to nine years in sexual assault case

December 23, 2010 | 11:22 am

A judge sentenced a former Bell police officer to nine years in federal prison for sexually assaulting a female motorist and violating her civil rights, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

Feliciano Sanchez, 35, of Pico Rivera, was sentenced Wednesday for the civil rights offense during a hearing before U.S. District Judge Valerie Baker Fairbank.

“The offense was serious, involving predatory conduct, [and was] committed by a police officer acting under color of law,” Fairbank said.

Sanchez pleaded guilty last year to violating the victim’s civil rights when he forced her to perform oral sex after stopping her for a traffic violation. He admitted in court that on May 16, 2007, he took the victim in his patrol car to an isolated parking lot where the incident occurred.

After the incident, Sanchez twice went to the victim’s workplace to tell her that he would be watching her, which caused her to quit her job.

“This former police officer violated his oath to serve and protect the community by committing a crime that was particularly offensive, dehumanizing and harmful,” said U.S. Atty. André Birotte Jr. “In this case, Mr. Sanchez committed an egregious assault, caused incalculable pain and suffering to the victim and damaged the honor of the thousands of men and women in law enforcement who serve us every day.”

Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, stated: “These actions not only brutalized the victim, but undermined the public’s trust in its law enforcement officers.”

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-- Richard Winton

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