Ex-San Diego cop gets jail for sexually assaulting women on the job
A former San Diego police officer was sentenced Friday to serve one year in jail for sexually assaulting women while on duty.
Ex-officer Christopher Hays, 30, wept as his wife, Erika, burst into loud sobbing and expressions of disbelief when the sentence was announced by Superior Court Judge Charles Rogers.
Hays, an officer for four years when he resigned after his arrest in February, pleaded guilty to one count of felony false imprisonment and two counts of misdemeanor assault and battery under color of authority.
The charges involved touching women inappropriately and for sexual gratification during pat-downs.
The maximum sentence was five years, but Rogers said that -- taking into consideration Hays’ history as a military veteran and his otherwise good record as a police officer -- he thought that a year in jail followed by three years of probation and counseling was appropriate.
He said that Hays would be allowed to move back to his native Arkansas when his jail term is completed. Hays is attending welding school in hopes of starting a new career, the judge was told.
Rogers said Hays was guilty of “acts that violate the trust of those he was supposed to protect and particularly violate the sexual privacy of the victims.”
Four women had accused Hays of touching them inappropriately.
Rogers said he was disappointed that, according to Hays’ interview with a probation officer, he still “continues to show lack of insight into his conduct.”
In his comments to Rogers before sentencing, Hays tearfully apologized to his victims and thanked his wife and family for standing with him during the court case. He said he hoped to spend the rest of his life “doing good by them and making them proud.”
Hays received a medal in 2012 for dashing into a burning building to save a woman who was trapped on the second floor. He also served with the Marines in Iraq as a lance corporal.
One of the abuse incidents occurred during a domestic violence call. Others involved a shoplifting suspect, a transient and a woman interviewed during a street patrol.
Hays is married and has two children. His father-in-law, Mark Jones, is an assistant chief with the San Diego Police Department.
Hays’ misconduct, Rogers said, tarnishes the reputation of every San Diego police officer.
Rogers also praised the Police Department’s investigation of Hays once a complaint was made.
“I believe the San Diego Police Department has been especially diligent in its handling of this matter,” he said.
Hays’ sentencing comes just a day after San Diego officials announced a $5.9-million settlement with a woman who was sexually assaulted by ex-officer Anthony Arevalos.
Arevalos, who was convicted of assaulting seven women, was sentenced in 2012 to eight years and eight months in prison.
Civil lawsuits are pending against Hays and the city of San Diego.
Hays remains free on $130,000 bail until he is ordered to surrender next month to begin his jail term.
After the Hays sentencing, Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman sent an email to all Police Department employees, noting that, “we all know the actions of a few of our officers who tarnished our badge and reputation do not reflect the vast majority of our officers and personnel who serve every day with honor (and) distinction.”
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