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Deputy accused of sexually assaulting a third inmate inside Lynwood jail

Deputy accused of sexually assaulting a third inmate inside Lynwood jail
A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy whose arrest was announced earlier this year by Sheriff Jim McDonnell, right, is now accused of attacking another woman inside the same facility, according to a federal civil rights lawsuit. (Kirk McKoy /Los Angeles Times)

A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy who was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting two female inmates inside a county jail earlier this year is now accused of attacking another woman inside the same facility, authorities said Wednesday.

Giancarlo Scotti, 31, was arrested on suspicion of rape and oral copulation under color of authority in September after two female inmates accused him of sexually assaulting them inside the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood on the morning of Sept. 13, authorities have said.

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But in a 28-page federal civil rights lawsuit filed Tuesday, a third woman accused Scotti of forcing her to perform oral sex on him in August, at least a month before his arrest. The inmate, who was pregnant at the time of the alleged assault, was not among the women Scotti was accused of attacking in September, according to attorneys Justin Sterling and Erin Darling, who filed the suit.

In response to questions from The Times about the lawsuit, the Sheriff's Department confirmed Wednesday it had uncovered an additional sexual assault allegation against the deputy in the course of its investigation.

"The Sheriff's Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau ... began, and has since continued, a vigorous and thorough investigation," the agency said in a statement. "ICIB detectives have interviewed 150 witnesses and gathered additional evidence. A case involving three victims was submitted to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office."

A spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Department declined to say if the third victim uncovered during the investigation was the same woman who filed the lawsuit.

Scotti, who previously declined to comment when contacted by a Times reporter, was released on $100,000 bail shortly after his arrest and placed on administrative leave, officials said at the time. It was not clear if the deputy had retained an attorney.

No charges have been filed against Scotti. The Sheriff's Department presented Scotti's case to prosecutors last month, but it remains under review, according to Greg Risling, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. Risling declined to answer questions about the lawsuit's allegations.

The Times generally does not identify people who report being victims of sexual assault.

The first attack occurred when Scotti approached an inmate inside her cell and ordered her to expose her genitals to him, according to the court filing. Scotti then exposed himself to the victim and ordered her to get on her knees, according to the lawsuit, which seeks monetary damages against the deputy, the Sheriff's Department and the county.

The woman took Scotti's words as an order to perform oral sex and "felt like she had no other choice but to comply with Deputy Scotti's forcible commands," according to the lawsuit.

The second plaintiff in the lawsuit accused Scotti of sexually assaulting her in a shower at the jail the day before his arrest. She saved a sample of Scotti's semen on a piece of tissue paper, which she provided to investigators, according to the suit.

Scotti was known for flirting with inmates, according to the suit, which also alleged that jail staff had been informed of other accusations against Scotti but ignored them.

"The county, [the Sheriff's Department] and [Sheriff Jim] McDonnell were on notice that other female inmates had complained about sexual assaults and sexually inappropriate behavior by Deputy Scotti," the lawsuit said. "Furthermore, plaintiffs allege that Deputy Scotti had been put on some form of employment probation by the county before he sexually assaulted" the inmates.

Both women named in the lawsuit, who have since been released from custody, also claim they were mistreated by jail personnel after agreeing to speak with investigators about Scotti. One was barred from drug and mental health counseling after reporting the alleged abuse, and jail staff denied her the special meals she had been receiving because she was pregnant, according to the suit.

"Not only is Deputy Scotti's sexual assault the ultimate betrayal of the trust we place in these officers, but the county's response to take away necessary services from vulnerable women is just making something traumatic even more traumatic," Darling said.

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Los Angeles Times Staff Writer Maya Lau contributed to this report.

Follow @JamesQueallyLAT for crime and police news in California.

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