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Sheriff's deputy convicted of rape sentenced to 9 years in prison

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She was driven to a dark road in the desert in the back of patrol car. The sheriff's deputy parked in a secluded spot in Palmdale and told her to walk to the front of the car.

It was there, the woman said Friday in court, that the L.A. County deputy raped her and changed her life forever.

"You essentially murdered a part of me and I'll never be able to get it back," the victim tearfully said as she stared at her attacker, Jose Rigoberto Sanchez. "A police officer is supposed to serve and protect. I had nowhere to run because the one who I should have been able to run to for help was the one harming me."

Following the woman's statement, Sanchez, who pleaded no contest to one count of rape while under the color of authority and one count of soliciting a bribe, was sentenced to nine years in state prison. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Terry A. Bork also ordered Sanchez to register with the state as a sex offender.

The woman said she believed Sanchez, 29, deserved "far more" time behind bars. The Times generally does not name victims of sexual assaults.

According to a probation report released Friday, Sanchez spotted the then-24-year-old woman at a gas station in Palmdale on Sept. 22, 2010. He ran her license plate and discovered she had an outstanding arrest warrant, the report states.

Sanchez followed her car for a while and then pulled her over. She acknowledged to Sanchez that she had been drinking, according to the document, which was based on police reports and interviews.

After conducting a Breathalyzer test, Sanchez said she was over the legal limit, the report states. He told her she was "hot" and asked what she would do to avoid arrest before telling her to lock her car with her cell phone and purse inside the vehicle. He then placed her in the back of his patrol car without handcuffing her, the report says.

Sanchez drove the woman out to the desert, raped her against the hood of the patrol car, then drove her back to her car, the probation report says. He followed her home and asked for her phone number to "mess around" again, the report states. Out of fear, the woman told authorities she gave him her number.

Prosecutors say that two nights later Sanchez, a seven-year veteran of the sheriff's department, pulled over a 36-year-old woman for investigation of driving under the influence and solicited a bribe in the form of sexual activity. With the help of a friend the woman refused, the report states.

On Friday, Sanchez, who was shackled and wearing an orange jumpsuit, was stoic. He mostly looked down at the defense table as his first victim berated him.

"I know that at some point you will get out of your prison, but me? I am stuck in mine for the rest of my life," she said, adding that she had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after the assault.

She said she lived in fear during the three years the crime was under investigation and he was not in custody.

The woman filed a civil lawsuit against Sanchez, the county and the Sheriff's Department in November 2011. The case is pending.

ryan.menezes@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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