A former San Bernardino police officer was sentenced Monday to 25 years in federal prison for forcing prostitutes to have sex with him while he was in uniform.
Jose Jesus Perez, 47, of Menifee was convicted in May of two felony counts and one misdemeanor count of deprivation of rights under color of law for sexually assaulting two women in 2011. Perez worked in the vice division, which investigates, among other things, prostitution.
Two prostitutes, whose identities were not released, told investigators they engaged in the sex acts with Perez out of fear of arrest, according to acting U.S. Atty. Stephanie Yonekura’s office.
One woman testified at trial that Perez forced her to perform oral sex on him in his patrol car. Another said Perez lured her to a vacant lot and forced her to have sex with him next to his car and again in motel rooms, prosecutors said.
Police GPS records showed that Perez’s patrol car was in the location where and when the women alleged the attacks occurred, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Riverside.
A third woman said Perez, while in uniform, solicited sex when he found her stranded in San Bernardino.
In a handwritten letter to U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips before his sentencing, Perez blamed the stress from his job. He said he was a sex addict and began attending weekly Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings after the investigation began.
Perez, who said he was a husband and father, blamed the “everyday stress of a patrol officer of 14 years” for his actions and said he turned to sex as a way to “escape the dead body I just saw or the report I had to take of violence towards a child.”
“I have learned that in order to survive the everyday evil I have seen, I may have developed a shut-off switch to separate myself from the realities of law enforcement and normal attitude,” he wrote. “I may have developed a callous attitude.”
In the affidavit, FBI Special Agent Heng K. Liv alleged that Perez, in separate incidents, encountered two prostitutes while on patrol and took their phone numbers. He then sent sexually explicit text messages and made phone calls telling one of the women he wanted to have sex, Liv wrote.
One woman “told detectives that prostitutes have a common understanding that they cannot tell a police officer ‘no’ if he requests sex because the officer will make life difficult,” according to the affidavit.
“Although [Perez] is no longer a police officer and is no longer able to abuse a position of public authority to his own criminal ends, he remains the same person – someone who lacks basic respect for the humanity and autonomy of women,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing brief.
Perez, who was once a Los Angeles police officer, was fired from the San Bernardino Police Department in December 2012 after an internal investigation into the allegations. He was arrested in September 2013 in Texas.
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