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LAPD detective accuses fellow officer of sexual abuse and blackmail in lawsuit

LAPD detective accuses fellow officer of sexual abuse and blackmail in lawsuit
LAPD Det. Ysabel Villegas announced Wednesday that she was suing the Los Angeles Police Department and a fellow officer whom she accused of abusing her during their relationship. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

A Los Angeles police detective said that she was sexually assaulted by a fellow officer and that her supervisors ignored her reports of physical abuse and blackmail threats, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

Det. Ysabel Villegas, who has been with the LAPD for 30 years, first described allegations of a violent relationship with Officer Daniel Reedy when she sought a restraining order against him in January. Villegas had previously accused Reedy of beating her on multiple occasions and threatening to distribute sexually explicit images of her if she tried to end their relationship, court records show.

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In the lawsuit filed Wednesday, Villegas alleges that Reedy assaulted, abused and blackmailed her, creating a hostile work environment, and that the LAPD failed to protect her from his actions.

The lawsuit also directly accuses Reedy of sexually assaulting Villegas in a Pomona motel room in July 2017.

“Detective Villegas told Officer Reedy at the motel that she did not want to have sex with him,” the lawsuit says. “Nevertheless, Officer Reedy proceeded to rape her.”

Villegas alleged Wednesday that she had been coerced into engaging in a sexual act because of Reedy’s threat to reveal the explicit photos publicly.

Reedy is the subject of an investigation by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office and has been placed on administrative leave by the LAPD. In January, a judge granted Villegas’ request for a restraining order that barred Reedy from contacting her or owning firearms. The order will remain in effect for five years. Calls to Reedy’s home and the offices of his last known attorney were not returned Wednesday.

A spokesman for the Los Angeles city attorney’s office declined to comment. In a statement, LAPD spokesman Josh Rubenstein said the department “immediately initiated an administrative investigation into this matter” after Villegas first applied for a restraining order in November 2018.

Villegas and Reedy, who was last assigned to the Los Angeles Police Department’s Central Division, began dating in 2013, according to the lawsuit. The relationship turned bitter in 2016, when Reedy became jealous and abusive, Villegas alleges. At some point, Reedy took explicit photos of Villegas without her consent, according to the lawsuit and a separate application for a restraining order.

“With these photos, he emotionally terrorized me. He controlled and manipulated me,” she said during a Wednesday news conference.

Villegas reported Reedy’s behavior to several “senior LAPD officers” — including her supervisor in the Robbery-Homicide Division as well as her husband, former Assistant Chief Jorge Villegas — who then “violated the law and LAPD policy by failing to report Officer Reedy,” the lawsuit says. Ysabel Villegas said Wednesday that she felt her “LAPD family has turned its back on me. “

Jorge Villegas resigned in late 2018, not long after an undercover surveillance unit caught him engaging in sexual activity with a subordinate female officer in a parking lot, sources previously told The Times. He has declined repeated requests for comment. The couple had filed for divorce in 2009 but ultimately decided to stay together due to family obligations, though both agreed they were free to pursue other relationships, according to the lawsuit.

Ysabel Villegas accused Reedy of physically assaulting her at least three times from 2016 to 2018, according to court documents. In the most recent incident, she accused Reedy of punching her at the Continental diner in Glendora. The Glendora Police Department presented a case involving Reedy to the district attorney’s office, a spokeswoman told The Times this year.

When Villegas attempted to end the relationship in 2017, Reedy began threatening to show the explicit photographs to her children and husband, according to the lawsuit. He also sent her profanity-laced text messages that included demands for sex. Jorge Villegas eventually received the images in a text message from Reedy, and the photos later circulated throughout the LAPD, the lawsuit said.

An LAPD spokesman declined to comment on an internal investigation into the spread of the photos because it was a personnel matter. It remains unclear how many officers received or transmitted the images.

A spokesman for the district attorney’s office said Wednesday that Reedy’s case remained under review. A law enforcement official, who requested anonymity to discuss the case candidly, told The Times that a search warrant for Reedy’s home and electronic devices was served in January.

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Ysabel Villegas’ attorney, Lisa Bloom, has said that Reedy’s alleged distribution of the photos could violate California’s revenge porn law. Under the 2013 law, it is a crime for someone to intentionally disseminate explicit photos without the other person’s consent while knowing that the images will cause emotional distress.

Villegas’ lawsuit is the latest in a series of recent legal actions involving sexual harassment allegations within the state’s largest police agency. Capt. Lillian Carranza filed a sexual harassment lawsuit this year alleging that some officers shared the explicit images of Villegas but falsely claimed that Carranza was the woman in the photographs.

In the lawsuit, Carranza said Deputy Chief Debra McCarthy, who oversees internal affairs, knew of the situation since at least November 2018 but failed to do anything about it. McCarthy has not responded to requests for comment.

The city also had to pay out $1.8 million last year to settle a lawsuit stemming from allegations that an internal affairs lieutenant ordered officers to conduct surveillance on a female subordinate who refused his sexual advances.

“How can we expect the LAPD to stand up for women victims when they can’t stand up for one of their own?” Bloom said Wednesday.

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