Sexual Misconduct: Deputy charged after numerous women come forw - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Sexual Misconduct: Deputy charged after numerous women come forward

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VISTA (NEWS 8) - A veteran San Diego County sheriff's deputy accused of groping a dozen women while on duty over the past several years pleaded not guilty Thursday to 14 charges, including assault and battery by an officer, sexual battery and false imprisonment.

Richard Timothy Fischer, 31, faces 14 years in prison if convicted. He surrendered to authorities before being arraigned by Judge David Danielsen, who ordered the defendant held on $100,000 bail, but on Thursday evening, the 31-year-old was free on bail. 

Fischer 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 last month.

Sheriff Bill Gore said news of the allegations against Fischer, who's accused of fondling women during pat-downs or rubbing their hands against his genitals, were "devastating." Gore 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.

According to Kathy Pillman, in 2016 she wrote a letter to the Sheriff documenting an alleged assault but was ignored. In October, when another woman came forward that launched the investigation, Pillman wrote another letter. 

The sheriff said they never found the first complaint.

Once the initial complaints against Fischer came in, other women came forward with similar accounts, said District Attorney Summer Stephan.

The county's top prosecutor said the investigation by the Sheriff's Department allowed her office to move quickly once they got the case on Jan. 22.

Defense attorney Richard Pinckard said Fischer is not a flight risk and has ties to the San Diego community.

The defendant will be back in court March 26 for a readiness conference and May 2 for a preliminary hearing.

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

Pillman said justice is making sure "this never happens again. If this Sheriff had taken my letter seriously, a lot of other women would not have gone through  this." 

Sheriff Gore said a field report about Fischer's alleged misconduct made last September was inappropriately handled and under a separate investigation. 

Richard Fischer's defense released the following statement: 

"Richard Fischer has dedicated his entire adult life to public service. He has served his country as a decorated United States Marine and he has served his communities as a police officer and a deputy sheriff. These allegations are wholly inconsistent with who Mr Fischer is. He categorically denies each of the allegations and looks forward to clearing his name. He has the full support of his family and everyone else who knows and loves him."

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