A former Irvine police officer was acquitted Friday of charges he sexually assaulted an exotic dancer during a traffic stop in 2004.
David Alex Park, who had been a police officer in Irvine for three years before his arrest, expressed jubilation after the verdict was read.
“There have been a lot of accusations. I’m very happy with the outcome,” said Park.
Park, 31, was accused of following a woman as she left her job at Captain Cream Cabaret, a Lake Forest strip club, on Dec. 14 and then stopping her car in Laguna Beach. The woman alleged that the officer -- who was on duty -- touched her sexually and threatened her with arrest if she refused to fondle him.
The 11-man, one-woman jury, which deliberated nearly six hours over two days, found Park not guilty of three felony counts of sexual battery, sexual battery by restraint and sexual penetration with a foreign object. If convicted, Park would have faced up to 10 years in prison and would have had to register as a sex offender, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Shaddi Kamiabipour.
The woman, whose driver’s license had been suspended after she failed to complete a class related to a DUI case, relented to the officer’s demands because she feared going to jail, Kamiabipour said. But Park’s attorney, Allan H. Stokke, said the sex was consensual.
“She initiated it,” Stokke said after the verdict was handed down in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana. He said the district attorney’s office “overcharged” the case. At most, he said, Park was guilty of accepting a sexual favor.
The woman proved to be a poor witness on the stand during the nine-day trial, Stokke said. “She couldn’t keep her stories straight,” he said. “There were at least 10 different versions.”
At one point, she testified that she did not work at Captain Cream. But employment records showed that she worked there from July to September 2004, Stokke said.
The dancer also said she did not receive any compensation from Irvine after filing a $10- million lawsuit, Stokke said. But, he said, she actually received a $400,000 settlement from the city. Irvine officials and police declined to confirm the settlement.
The Police Department released a statement Friday, saying that it respected the jury’s decision but declined to comment further.
Stokke said Park, who is working in construction, is “embarrassed” but glad to put the case behind him. Park hopes to become a police officer again. “It’s been his lifelong goal,” Stokke said.