Abusing authority

Former California police officer accused of raping women while on the job

The San Matteo district attorney said Winchester chose victims ‘who he thought would not come forward. (District attorney of San Mateo County)

On Thursday, a former California police officer was charged with 22 felony counts of rape, sexual assault, kidnapping, and other offenses for the alleged sexual assault of five women — including a 17-year-old girl — while on duty. Prosecutors said that Noah Winchester, 31, a former San Mateo police officer, targeted “vulnerable young women … who he thought would not come forward.” His first two assaults were alleged to have taken place in 2013 in Sacramento while working as an officer in a community college district. One of the victims is said to have been a 17-year-old whom he forced “to get into his car” while near campus. The other three cases occurred in September and October of 2015 in San Mateo.

Prosecutors said some of the women targeted may have been homeless, and that all the victims appeared to be vulnerable or disadvantaged. The officer “would take the women and move them to another area,” prosecutors said, and commit the assaults by “threatening to use the authority of a public official to incarcerate” his victims. In multiple cases it is alleged that the officer touched the women while they were “unlawfully restrained.” The former policeman also allegedly threatened “to commit a crime which would result in death and great bodily injury” to the victim during an assault that involved “forcible oral copulation.” Winchester, who resigned from the San Mateo department in February as the investigation was ongoing, stands accused of raping three women, attempting to rape a fourth, and sexually assaulting a fifth victim.

The San Mateo police department said that Winchester had been placed on indefinite leave as soon as they learned of the allegations. “While we respect the now former officer’s right to due process under the law and the presumption that he is innocent until proven guilty, we as a department cannot help but be appalled by the nature of these allegations,” said the department in a statement. “These allegations, if proven true, are a disgrace and wholly disavowed by this department and this city.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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