SAN DIEGO (CNS) - An Oct. 17 trial date was set Monday for a former San Diego police officer accused of trying to elicit sexual favors from women he stopped for alleged drunken driving violations in the Gaslamp Quarter.
Anthony Arevalos faces more than 19 years in prison if convicted of 21 felony counts, including assault under the color of authority and sexual battery by restraint.
After a two-day preliminary hearing last month, Judge John Einhorn found that enough evidence had been presented to warrant ordering Arevalos to stand trial on the charges, which involve seven women.
Arevalos, a 40-year-old married father of two, remains free on $200,000 bail. He pleaded not guilty to the charges today and had a readiness conference set for Sept. 9.
His attorney, Jan Ronis, requested that the case be assigned to a judge for all purposes, but Presiding Judge David Danielsen said that could wait until a later date.
Arevalos was with SDPD for 18 years before being fired upon the filing of the charges, which include false imprisonment and asking for or receiving a bribe.
Five women who were stopped by Arevalos took the stand during the preliminary hearing. One of them testified that Arevalos sexually assaulted her in a 7-Eleven restroom near the Gaslamp District after asking for her underwear to get out of a drunken driving ticket.
"Jane Doe" said he pulled her over in his marked patrol unit around 11 p.m. March 8 as she left downtown after riding a float in the Mardi Gras parade, telling her she didn't use her turn signal on G Street as she headed for state Route 94 and asking her if she'd been drinking.
The woman, who was 31 at the time, said she took two breathalyzer tests at the scene, and Arevalos told her that her blood-alcohol level reading came out both times as 0.09, just above the legal limit of .08, which "shocked" her and caused her to start "freaking out."
She said she told Arevalos she couldn't afford a DUI because it would ruin her career in education, and he responded that they "might be able to work something out."'
"He asked me what I'd be willing to do to get out of this" and instructed her to drive to a nearby 7-Eleven to discuss the matter further because they were at the traffic stop too long and people were starting to look.
"I asked him what he wanted," she said. "He said, `I had another lady give me her bra and panties."'
She said she went into the 7-Eleven with Arevalos with the intention of going into the restroom and removing her underwear to give to him. But she said Arevalos got the key to the restroom, "followed me in and shut the door and locked it," then sexually assaulted her.
When they exited the store, Arevalos told her "we're in this together" and not to tell anyone what happened, she testified.
The woman said she didn't report the incident right away, but did so a day later because she realized Arevalos might do the same thing to other people.
Another woman testified that Arevalos pulled her over about 2 a.m. Oct. 22 as she left a Gaslamp bar with friends -- supposedly for sitting at a stop sign for too long. The woman -- who was 30 at the time of the stop -- testified that the officer wanted her to take a breathalyzer test and field sobriety test, but she refused and stayed in her car.
The woman said Arevalos massaged her nipple with a hand-held breathalyzer and asked her, "Can you feel that?", then stuck his hand down the front of her jeans and moved it front to back several times. At some point, the woman said she lifted up her shirt to expose her breasts, and shortly after that Arevalos called her a cab.
The woman told defense attorney Jan Ronis that the encounter was "shocking and uncomfortable" and that she came forward after learning about the officer's arrest in March.
Prosecutor Sherry Thompson said most of the alleged victims were between 20 and 30, and many of them appeared to be students. She alleged that Arevalos tried to find out things of a personal nature about the women he stopped, like their interests and what they were studying.