Los Angeles County Supervisors unanimously approved a new contract Tuesday with 40 cities that pay the Sheriff's Department to patrol their streets, agreeing to split the costs of any future claims against deputies convicted of sexual assault.

The association that represents the cities had demanded changes to the contract after supervisors used the cities' liability trust fund to pay $5.6 million in claims against former Deputy Gabriel Gonzalez, convicted in 2006 of raping three women while on duty in the Compton area.

Last spring, the association appealed to the county to recoup the payout and threatened to sue, arguing that it violated the terms of their contract. The dispute over who should be held liable when an on-duty sheriff's deputy commits serious misconduct hampered contract negotiations for months.

The new contract takes effect Sept. 1.

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske

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