Deputy's Sex Called Lapse, but Not Rape : Woman Testifies She Was Too Frightened to Resist Advances of Ex-Investigator

Times Staff Writer

The lawyer for a former Sheriff's Department investigator said Tuesday that his client used "very poor judgment" in spending the night with a 20-year-old Beverly Hills woman he was investigating but denied the prosecutor's claim that the officer had raped her.

However, the woman testified at a hearing in Westminster on Tuesday that because the investigator, Robert J. Minty, had previously threatened her with prison, she was too scared to resist his advances when he took her to a Westminster motel two months ago.

Minty, 37, a 13-year veteran, resigned last month after he was charged with three counts of raping the young woman under color of police authority. Deputy Dist. Atty. David L. Himelson said Minty's actions implied a threat to the woman.

The Municipal Court hearing is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to bind Minty over to Superior Court to stand trial on the felony charges.

The woman fervently but calmly denied under cross-examination that she had seduced Minty.

"I knew that it was either have sex or go to jail," the woman said. "He told me whatever happened to me (in my case) was up to him."

Minty, who is married and has one child, has been free without bail since his arrest.

In an interview, Minty's attorney, Byron K. McMillan, blamed Minty's arrest on "a woman's wrath" and theorized that the woman was trying to get back at Minty, partly because the case against her had not gone well for her. Minty was investigating accusations that stemmed from her sales of magazines.

She had worked in Orange County in February selling magazines door to door but did not have a license. A customer in Sunset Beach complained that the woman and her two co-workers stole money from his home while selling him magazines. That lead to Minty's investigation.

The woman, who testified for two hours, said Minty called her several times in Northern California, where she was staying, to tell her that she was in serious trouble.

The woman said Minty told her that she could go to state prison for up to 10 years and in one call told her that she should come to Orange County to clear the case or a warrant might be issued for her arrest.

It was that call, the woman said, that persuaded her to leave Petaluma, where she was living then, and come to Orange County on March 24. Minty was waiting for her at Los Angeles International Airport. He told her he was putting her up in a Westminster motel. The woman said she realized that there was trouble ahead when Minty told her that he was going to spend the night with her to avoid a two-hour drive home, and that there was just one bed.

Sex Three Times

The woman said that despite the fact she was crying and showed some resistance to his advances, Minty had sex with her twice that night and once again in the morning.

He then took her to West Municipal Court in Westminster, where she paid a $425 fine for failing to have a sales license, a misdemeanor. No theft charges were ever filed. The woman maintains that she stole nothing from the customer who complained.

Minty then dropped her off at South Coast Plaza while he went back to work. She said that they agreed to meet at the carrousel in the mall but that instead of waiting for him she called a rape crisis hot line. Later in the day she went to the police.

Minty had provided her with a return airline ticket. Before calling the rape crisis hot line, the woman said she called the airport to see if she could get an earlier flight.

However, defense attorney McMillan said outside of the courtroom that she may have been angry at the $425 fine, which she had expected to be $50; having a ticket to Oakland when she would have preferred one to San Francisco and her inability to change to an earlier flight.

But the woman said none of that was the case.

She called the airline before calling the rape crisis hot line, she testified, because "I just wanted to get out as fast as I could."

The woman asked Municipal Judge Alan M. McKone for a brief recess when McMillan's questions became accusatory. But otherwise, she answered all questions quietly and calmly.

She is to resume testifying today.

McMillan told a reporter that Minty had definitely not used good police procedure that day. "It was very poor judgment," McMillan said, with Minty nodding his head yes beside him. "He has resigned, and he will never be a police officer again. But it wasn't rape. It was consensual sex."

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