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California

LAPD officer charged with rape after ‘cold’ DNA match, prosecutors say

LAPD Headquaters
City Hall reflected on the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.
(Nick Agro / For The Times)

An LAPD officer has been charged with rape following a sexual assault investigation, authorities said Wednesday.

Officer William Rodriguez, 33, a 10-year LAPD veteran most recently assigned to the Valley Traffic Division, was taken into custody Tuesday and relieved of his police powers. The L.A. County district attorney’s office on Wednesday charged Rodriguez with two counts of forcible rape in a case with a special allegation of multiple victims.

The charges stem from a Nov. 1 report of a sexual assault involving an acquaintance at Rodriguez’s home. The investigation led to the discovery of a second sexual assault in August 2015, in which officials say Rodriguez also was involved. Prosecutors say that attack occurred under similar conditions. Both incidents occurred while Rodriguez was off-duty, police say .

Rodriguez was identified through a combined DNA index system, or a “cold hit” DNA match, authorities said.

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“When one of our own breaks the trust of the people, we are sworn to protect and serve, it tarnishes the badge we all wear proudly on our chests. This arrest reflects our commitment to pursue every lead no matter where the investigation takes us,” LAPD Police Chief Michel Moore said in a statement.

When asked whether investigators think there could be more victims, LAPD Capt. Gisselle Espinoza said: “We know only of those two. But like with any investigation, we will follow the evidence as far as it takes us.”

The investigation was conducted by the Sexual Assault Section of LAPD’s Robbery Homicide Division. Prosecutors have recommended that Rodriguez’s bail be set at $1.2 million. If convicted as charged, he faces a maximum sentence of 30 years to life in state prison.

In March, the Los Angeles City Council agreed to pay nearly $2 million to settle a lawsuit from a woman who was sexually assaulted by two LAPD officers in 2009. It was the fourth settlement the city has reached regarding the sexual assault case.

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Officers Luis Valenzuela and James C. Nichols pleaded no contest in 2018 to sexually assaulting multiple women, ages 19 to 34, while on-duty between 2008 and 2011. One partner often served as a lookout while the other carried out the attack in an unmarked police car, prosecutors said.

Each man was sentenced to 25 years in state prison.

Times staff writer Mark Puente contributed to this report.


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