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L.A. County sheriff's sergeant accused of sexual assault while on duty

May 22, 2009 |  3:14 pm

A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s sergeant has been charged with sexually assaulting a woman and inappropriately touching two other females during traffic stops last year while on duty.

Sgt. Mark Fitzpatrick is alleged to have assaulted the women during three separate stops out on patrol last May in Compton. Prosecutors allege during one stop he threatened the woman with arrest or deportation during the sexual assault.

Fitzpatrick was arrested Thursday evening and appeared today in a downtown court on four felony charges. Deputy Dist. Atty. Natalie Adomian said the 39-year-old sergeant pleaded not guilty to penetration under threat to arrest or deport, sexual battery by restraint and two counts each of false imprisonment by fraud and deceit as well as a misdemeanor count of false imprisonment.

A few weeks after the incidents, sheriff investigators got reports of Fitzpatrick’s alleged misconduct and began a criminal investigation.

“We do not pull any punches. The Sheriff’s Separtment investigated as soon as we heard the allegations,” said Steve Whitmore, department spokesman. “As soon as this came to the department’s attention, he began riding a desk … now the charges have been filed he will be relieved of duty without pay.”

Fitzpatrick was ordered to return for a preliminary hearing on July 6 at the downtown courthouse.

He remains free in lieu of $245,000 bail.

-- Richard Winton