Former officer's lawyer questions ex-wife

The defense attorney for a former Huntington Beach police officer accused of 20 felony counts including rape and sodomy pointed out inconsistencies in the testimony of the officer's ex-wife Friday in the second day of his preliminary hearing.

The defense continued the cross-examination of former Officer James Roberts III's ex-wife in front of Superior Court Judge Richard J. Beacom at Central Justice Center in Santa Ana. A preliminary hearing is where prosecutors present evidence to a judge who rules if the case is strong enough to go to trial.

Roberts, 34, is charged with alleged acts against his wife, an alleged mistress and another man while serving as an officer with the Police Department. He pleaded not guilty Feb. 26 to rape, forcible sodomy, false imprisonment by violence or deceit, criminal threats, domestic battery, aggravated assault, dissuading a witness and vandalism.

He faces a maximum sentence of 23 years and four months in prison if convicted on all charges.

Roberts sat at the defendant's table in a gun-metal gray suit and closely cropped hair watching closely with his hands in his lap as his attorney launched question after question on his ex-wife about a pattern of domestic violence she alleged he committed against her from June 2007 to March 2008.

The Independent is not identifying Robert's ex-wife because she is a possible victim of sexual assault.

Defense Atty. John Barnett cast aspersions on the testimony the ex-wife gave Thursday and highlighted inconsistencies as well as questioned her motives for bringing forward the charges.

A number of text messages and e-mails she allegedly sent appeared to show she wanted to re-establish a relationship, including a sexual one, Barnett said. He questioned why she continued to want a relationship with him, specifically a sexual one, after he allegedly raped her and she feared him, he said.

"Sometimes I would [sleep with him] so he would give me money … sometimes I would do it to be nice to him and give him what he wanted," she said, also adding that there were many reasons for continuing a consensual sexual relationship.

Barnett also brought forward a photograph of the ex-wife with a bruise on the back of her left arm that was given to the Orange County Sheriff's Department as evidence of domestic violence.

The photo was supposed to show the injuries of a July 3, 2007, incident when Roberts allegedly shoved his ex-wife into their bathroom causing her to hit her head and her arm — her right arm, Barnett pointed out.

"If you fell as you said you fell there would be an injury to your right arm not your left arm," he told the judge.

The ex-wife testified that she might not remember exactly what happened, but she did hit her arm, she said.

Barnett questioned why Roberts' ex-wife also failed to tell officers about the alleged abuse on several occasions and didn't make an official complaint with the police until Dec. 11, 2008.

"I was in a very scary situation," she testified. She told Barnett she was too afraid that her ex-husband would kill her and her son if she reported the alleged incidents to the authorities.

The preliminary hearing is expected to continue Aug. 26, prosecutors said.

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