A Los Angeles County sheriff’s sergeant is accused of fondling a deputy he supervised and forcing her to provide sexual favors in their workplace in exchange for his approving her time-off requests, according to a district attorney’s memorandum.
Sgt. Michael John Spina was arrested Aug. 9 and charged with two counts of sexual battery and one count each of false imprisonment and indecent exposure tied to his actions with the female employee. He had been on administrative leave since August 2016.
Department spokeswoman Nicole Nishida issued a statement saying that the charges pertain to alleged “work-related criminal misconduct” involving a sergeant and subordinate female employees. Nishida would not confirm whether the sergeant referred to in the statement is Spina, citing potential conflicts with peace officer confidentiality laws. She confirmed other elements of the case that match with Spina’s.
Nishida said concerns over releasing personnel information prohibited her from answering questions about whether the sergeant is still being paid or the number of female subordinates involved in the allegations.
“The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department expects all of its members to hold themselves to the highest ethical and professional standards at all times and has a comprehensive Policy of Equality for reporting alleged incidents of this nature,” the department’s statement said.
Spina, 37, was working at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in July 2016 when he ordered a female deputy into his office and locked the door, telling her she “owed” him for giving her a day off, according to the document written by Deputy Dist. Atty. Sean Hassett.
Spina touched the woman’s breast over her shirt while watching a pornographic video and masturbating, the memo says. The woman said that five months prior, Spina demanded similar treatment, and she complied out of fear that her day off would not be approved.
In that incident in February 2016, Spina approached the deputy near her desk and asked her if he could touch her so he could “get himself ‘off,’” the memo says. He unzipped his pants and touched the woman’s breasts before trying to kiss her. When the woman turned away, Spina stopped, said he was “bored” and walked into his office, according to the document.
Spina is also accused of inappropriately touching the deputy in June 2016 and asking if he could perform a sexual act on her, to which she repeatedly said “no.”
Reached by phone Monday morning, Spina said he was at a doctor’s appointment and could not immediately provide a comment. He did not respond to subsequent queries.
The case, first reported by the website Witness LA, was investigated by the Sheriff’s Department’s internal criminal investigations bureau, which referred the matter to the district attorney’s Justice System Integrity Division, which handles alleged crimes by law enforcement officials. The charges, however, are being prosecuted by the Los Angeles city attorney’s office because they’re misdemeanors.
A criminal complaint filed by the city attorney’s office says all of the charges against Spina stem from incidents “on or about” July 28, involving one unnamed female victim.
Spina, who joined the department in 2001, previously worked at the agency’s Crescenta Valley and Altadena stations before being promoted to sergeant in 2014, when he was assigned to Twin Towers, according to officials.
A previous version of this article said that Sgt. Michael John Spina was placed on administrative leave on Wednesday. Spina was placed on leave in August 2016.