San Diego agrees to pay $1.3 million to 2 women abused by police officer

San Diego settles lawsuits by 2 women sexually abused by police officer

The San Diego City Council has agreed to pay a total of $1.3 million to two women sexually assaulted by an on-duty police officer.

The council agreed to the payment at a closed session last month to settle claims filed by the women. The settlement was disclosed publicly this week.

The money will come from a fund in the city budget to settle claims.

The women were abused by Christopher Hays, who was convicted and sentenced to serve a year in custody. He served five months and was released March 2.

Attorney Dan Gilleon, who represented both women, said that "the city agreed to settle the cases by focusing on the harm to the victims as opposed to trying to defend" Hays' conduct. That conduct, he said, was "defenseless."

Hays, 30, an officer for four years, resigned after his arrest in Febuary 2014. He pleaded guilty to one count of felony false imprisonment and two counts of misdemeanor assault and battery under color of authority.

The charges involved touching women inappropriately and for sexual gratification during pat-downs, according to court documents.

The maximum sentence was five years, but Superior Court Judge Charles Rogers, in sentencing Hays in September, said he took into consideration Hays' history as a military veteran and his otherwise good record as a police officer.

Hays received a medal in 2012 for dashing into a burning building to save a woman who was trapped on the second floor. He also served with the Marines in Iraq as a lance corporal.

On the day of the sentencing, the judge said Hays would be allowed to move back to his native Arkansas when his jail term was completed. Hays hopes to become a welder, the judge was told.

A lawsuit filed by Gilleon on behalf of a third woman abused by Hays is pending.

The city has already agreed to pay $8.2 million to settle claims from women assaulted by officer Anthony Arevalos, 44, who was fired from the Police Department.

Convicted of multiple accounts of abusing women while on duty as a traffic officer, Arevalos, an 18-year veteran of the department, was sentenced in 2012 to eight years in prison. 

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