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California

Former L.A. County sheriff’s deputy gets 2-year prison sentence in inmate sex assault case

Century Regional Detention Facility
The Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

When one of the women who said a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy sexually assaulted her in jail learned he would serve only a two-year prison sentence, she was outraged.

Giancarlo Scotti will be able to forget what he did at the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood and start over when his sentence ends, she said. For her, it’s not so easy.

“When he’s putting on his street clothes … I’ll be waking in a cold sweat,” she told a judge, through tears, in a downtown L.A. courtroom. The Times generally does not name victims who report sex crimes.

Scotti, 33, was accused of unlawful sex with six female inmates and pleaded no contest this month to eight counts of sexual activity with a detainee in a detention facility, which is defined as sex between a peace officer and a consenting adult who is an inmate. Six of the counts were felonies.

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He entered an open plea, meaning he hadn’t worked out a deal with prosecutors.

Prosecutors requested a three-year sentence, while his defense attorney, Anthony Falangetti, requested no jail time. Falangetti and the prosecutor said the sexual acts were consensual.

The maximum Scotti faced was seven years and four months. Superior Court Judge Renee Korn sentenced him to two years in state prison, recommending that he serve in a fire camp, where inmates fight California’s wildfires. She urged Scotti to think about how he can better himself while he is in prison.

“That is what he deserves,” Korn said, adding that he took advantage of his position of trust. She attributed the leniency to Scotti’s lack of criminal history and his acknowledgment of wrongdoing early on. “Mr. Scotti will never work in law enforcement.”

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The charges stem from encounters in August and September 2017, when Scotti ordered two cellmates to perform oral sex on him, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. He later took the women to a shower area where he had sex with both of them.

In another incident, Scotti had a female inmate perform oral sex on him while she was in her cell. The six women ranged in age from 24 to 42.

In court, the prosecutor said that there was no indication the women were physically forced into the acts.

Justin Sterling, an attorney representing some of the women in civil cases, said in a statement he was disappointed by the sentence.

“The court’s sentence today is another symptom of something we see all too often and is further evidence that there appears to be a parallel justice system in place; one for you and me, and one reserved for members of law enforcement,” he said.

“For the court to intervene in a case such as this and undercut the D.A. is frustrating,” he said.

After the hearing, Scotti, who did not speak other than to answer a few questions from the judge, was handcuffed and taken into custody.

Last year, Los Angeles County agreed to pay $3.9 million to settle federal civil rights claims brought by three women, including the one who spoke in court. Three lawsuits are still pending in federal court.

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One woman claimed Scotti harassed and groped her in late 2016, widening the period of allegations against the deputy. The woman alleged that in December 2016, Scotti coerced her into an elevator and grabbed her breast.

An independent report released in March found the Lynwood facility was out of compliance with numerous mandates under the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act that are designed to keep inmates safe and limit opportunities for abuse. Auditors noted flaws in the jail’s complaint process and said female inmates could be seen showering.


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