A former Northern California police officer was arrested Thursday on suspicion of a series of sexual assaults he is accused of committing while working at two departments, prosecutors said.
Noah White Winchester, 31, was taken into custody near his home in Stockton by county investigators on charges that he sexually assaulted five victims while on duty and working as an officer, said San Mateo County Dist. Atty. Steve Wagstaffe.
Winchester was formerly employed with the Los Rios Community College District in Sacramento and the San Mateo Police Department.
Winchester faces 22 felony charges, including kidnapping with intent to commit rape, rape, sexual penetration and oral copulation under color of authority, sexual battery, criminal threats and forcible sex offenses, Wagstaffe said.
Winchester is accused of sexually assaulting the victims between July 2, 2013, and Oct. 19, 2015, Wagstaffe said.
In 2013, when the Sacramento assaults occurred, Winchester was working as an officer with the college, the district attorney said.
Winchester is suspected of attacking women who lived in San Mateo County in 2015, while he was working on duty as a San Mateo police officer, Wagstaffe said.
Wagstaffe provided few details about the offenses.
A woman was assaulted in her car by a San Mateo police officer at Coyote Point Recreation Area last fall, KGO-TV reported.
Winchester worked with the San Mateo police for less than a year, Wagstaffe said.
In a statement issued after Winchester's arrest, the Police Department said it was aware of the "extensive investigation involving multiple victims" and had been working with the district attorney's office since the allegations first emerged.
"As soon as our department was notified of these allegations, San Mateo police immediately placed him on indefinite leave, while pursuing the investigation," the department said in a statement.
College spokesman Mitchel Benson said the charges were shocking.
"We are appalled to think they could be true," he said.
Winchester worked for Los Rios Police Department for six years ending Jan. 16, 2015, Benson said. During his last two years, he was assigned to American River College.
College officials are launching an independent investigation into the allegations.
"If these allegations are proven to be true, that would be horrific for the women who were victimized," Benson said. "Such criminal behavior is contrary to the core values and mission of the Los Rios Community College District, our Police Department and the good men and women of Los Rios who work so hard to establish relationships and partnerships of trust and service across the four Los Rios Colleges and throughout the greater Sacramento region."
For breaking news in California, follow VeronicaRochaLA on Twitter.
5:04 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from the Los Rios Community College District.