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H.B. woman suspected of kidnapping, robbing and sexually assaulting bar patron while posing as a police officer in Tustin

Denise Christine Latta, 54, of Huntington Beach was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping, robbery, sexual battery, false imprisonment and impersonating a police officer.
(Courtesy of Tustin Police Department)

Police arrested a Huntington Beach woman Thursday who they say kidnapped, robbed and sexually assaulted another woman at a Tustin bar while pretending to be a police officer.

Denise Christine Latta, 54, was booked on suspicion of kidnapping, robbery, sexual battery, false imprisonment and impersonating a police officer, the Tustin Police Department said.

Police said the crime took place Sept. 13 when a woman entered the Tustin Inn and approached another woman and a bartender while flashing a badge resembling that of a law enforcement officer.

The woman with the badge ordered the bar customer to show identification, then cut the card into pieces when she complied, officials said.


Though the woman didn’t say she was police officer, the customer and the bartender believed she was, police said.

The woman forced the customer to leave the bar and once outside forced her to put her hands on a wall and spread her feet, according to police. She then searched the customer, touching her breast and groin area over her clothing, police said.

The woman then told the customer she would not be arrested and ordered her to leave the bar and never return, police said.

The motive for the crime was unclear, but it appeared the customer was specifically targeted because the woman knew her name when she approached her, Tustin police Lt. Bob Wright said.


The incident was reported to police officials, who launched an investigation.

Detectives arrested Latta on Thursday in Old Town Tustin, officials said. She had fake law enforcement identification cards and badges, as well as stun guns, handcuffs and other items, Wright said.

She told detectives she was a private detective and bail enforcement officer, but did not have documentation to prove either, police said.

Bail was set at $100,000 pending Latta’s initial court appearance, scheduled for Monday in Orange County Superior Court, booking records show.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Tustin police Det. Ryan Newton at (714) 573-3249.