Woman gets $245,000 settlement in deputy sex assault lawsuit
A single mother who alleged she was sexually assaulted by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy during a 2008 traffic stop was awarded a $245,000 settlement Tuesday.
The Downey woman said she had been pulled over after midnight in Paramount, and told she’d be jailed for drunk driving. But when the deputy returned to her driver’s side window, he told her “she looked like a nice girl,” according to her lawsuit, and said: “What are you going to do for me in order for me not to bring you to jail tonight?”
What followed was an alleged sexual assault that began in the woman’s car and continued in her driveway. Deputy Mark Fitzpatrick is facing a criminal trial next year in connection with the incident and two others, according to interviews and records. He had a history of sexual misconduct accusations during his roughly two-decade career with the Sheriff’s Department, authorities said.
Fitzpatrick, 41, has pleaded not guilty.
The Downey woman was driving alone when Fitzpatrick pulled her over. The armed deputy allegedly asked her if she had children, reminded her how much trouble she would be in and began shining his flashlight on her chest.
“Let me see your breasts,” he said, according to the woman’s civil complaint.
Soon after the deputy began touching her chest, the complaint said, another patrol car pulled up nearby. Frustrated, Fitzpatrick allegedly demanded that the woman lead him to her home.
Once there, she said she tried to “scurry into the safety of her home,” but was cornered by Fitzpatrick. The deputy ordered her to pull down her leggings and raise her dress, so he could “get a better view,” before he allegedly began sexually assaulting her, according to the lawsuit.
A car passed by and he grabbed her close, whispering in her ear that he “really likes her,” according to the suit.
The lawsuit alleged that the Sheriff’s Department was “deliberatively indifferent” to past allegations of misconduct against Fitzpatrick.
Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore rejected those claims, saying Sheriff Lee Baca “is not indifferent to any allegations.”
Fitzpatrick has been relieved of duty pending the outcome of his trial, Whitmore said. Attempts to reach Fitzpatrick’s attorney Tuesday were unsuccessful.
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