A former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy was convicted Thursday of rape and bribery stemming from two traffic stops, including one in which he pulled a woman over then raped her in the desert, prosecutors said.
Jose Rigaberto Sanchez, 29, pleaded no contest to rape under color of authority and to soliciting a bribe and is expected to be sentenced to eight years and eight months in prison.
Sanchez pulled over a 24-year-old woman in Palmdale while on duty Sept. 22, 2010. He offered not to arrest her on an outstanding warrant in exchange for sex, prosecutors said.
The seven-year veteran then drove away with the woman before sexually assaulting her in the desert, authorities sad.
John C. Taylor, the victim's attorney, said his client was relieved to hear that Sanchez "can no longer victimize and attack other women."
Taylor said the deputy forced his client to his back seat after stopping her on suspicion of drunk driving. Sanchez began driving, then "all of a sudden she realizes they're going off the roadway and into the desert and something bad was going to happen to her," Taylor said.
After the attack, Taylor said the deputy dropped her back off at her car, then followed her home. The woman is suing the county in connection with the incident. Taylor said that based on the deputy's assertive manner during the encounter, the fact that he went directly to a hiding spot and his ability to immediately "go back to doing business" indicates there are likely other victims.
According to prosecutors, there was at least one other.
Two nights later, Sanchez pulled over another woman on suspicion of drunk driving.
He solicited a bribe in the form of sexual activity from the 36-year-old, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.
Sanchez was most recently assigned to patrol duties at the Palmdale Station and had previously worked in the county's jails.
The Sheriff's Department launched an investigation in 2010 after receiving a tip from an informant, a department spokesman said.
Sanchez was relieved of duty with pay in September 2010 after the tip was received, and his pay was suspended after he was arrested in July.
Sanchez resigned in September, according to a sheriff's spokeswoman.
Sanchez initially faced about a dozen charges and could have been sentenced to life in prison if convicted.
Along with the expected prison sentence, he will have to register as a sex offender, prosecutors said.