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California police department reprimanded by judge in sexual harassment case


Summary of story from the Los Angeles Times, October 3, 2011

The police department of Fullerton, Orange County, California, has been reprimanded by a federal judge for allowing a police officer to return to patrol after he had been accused of groping women.

Seven women have accused Officer Albert Rincon of sexually harassing or groping them during arrests.

In 2008, Kari Bode and Gina Nastasi accused the officer of groping them and exposing their breasts.

They sued the department in 2009, and subsequent investigations by the city and district attorney revealed similar accusations from a total of seven women.

The Orange County district attorney did not file criminal charges against Rincon, but last week, US District Judge Andrew Guilford refused to throw out a lawsuit brought by two of the women, stating that the case raised “disturbing allegations of police misconduct”.

Guilford found that protocols requiring female officers to pat down women who are detained and to record all contact between police and suspects, were not followed.

Further, the judge wrote, the department failed to adequately punish Rincon, suggesting “tacit authorization” of his actions.

“A reasonable juror could conclude based on these facts, that the city simply did not care what officers did to women during arrest,” Guilford wrote.

After the ruling the city of Fullerton tentatively agreed to settle to case. Sources familiar with the settlement say it totals about $500,000.

Rincon is now on administrative leave.

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