Sheriff's supervisor sentenced for sexual assault during traffic stop
A former Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department supervisor was sentenced to more than nine years in prison Friday for sexually assaulting and inappropriately searching women while on duty, prosecutors said.
The charges against the former Compton station sergeant, Mark Fitzpatrick, stemmed from three separate traffic stops in 2008. One woman, a single mother from Downey, alleged she was pulled over after midnight by Fitzpatrick, who initially threatened to jail her for drunk driving.
But when Fitzpatrick returned to her driver's-side window, he told her "she looked like a nice girl," according to a lawsuit, and said: "What are you going to do for me in order for me not to bring you to jail tonight?"
What followed was an alleged sexual assault that began in the woman's car and continued in her driveway. The armed officer first allegedly asked her if she had children, reminded her how much trouble she would be in and began shining his flashlight on her chest. "Let me see your breasts," he said, according to the woman's civil complaint.
Once there, she said, she tried to "scurry into the safety of her home" but was cornered by Fitzpatrick.
The officer ordered her to pull down her leggings and raise her dress, so he could "get a better view," before he allegedly began sexually assaulting her, according to the lawsuit.
A car passed by and he grabbed her close, whispering in her ear that he "really likes her," according to the suit.
The lawsuit, which eventually settled for $245,000, alleged that the Sheriff's Department was "deliberately indifferent" to past allegations of misconduct against Fitzpatrick. That claim was strongly denied by Sheriff Lee Baca’s spokesman, who said the department takes allegations against its officers seriously.
Fitzpatrick, 42, pleaded not guilty to the charges against him but was convicted by a jury last year of multiple felony counts, including penetration under threat to arrest or deport, sexual battery by restraint, sexual penetration by foreign object and false imprisonment.
-- Robert Faturechi