City Attorney Mike Feuer’s office said it would not file misdemeanor sexual assault charges against a former South Gate Police Department officer, who was arrested after a woman said she was sedated and attacked inside the ex-cop’s downtown apartment.
A spokesman for Feuer’s office declined to explain the decision beyond saying there was, "insufficient evidence," and said the office does not keep records about criminal case filing decisions.
“This case has been the worst when it comes to injustice for a victim,” said one law enforcement official who was familiar with the case, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Last year NBC4 reported the LA County District Attorney’s Office said it would not pursue felony charges against the former officer, Edgar Y. Gomez, also citing insufficient evidence.
"My client, Mr. Gomez, has always maintained his innocence and continues to do so," said Gomez's defense attorney Silva Megerditchian. "My client is thankful to the Los Angeles City Attorney's office for coming to the same conclusion the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office came to."
The victim, who does not want to reveal her name publicly, said she was given alcohol and drugs, passed out, then briefly regained consciousness several times during the alleged attack that stretched over two days on a weekend last year. She said she was stripped and raped, and said she was held down and ordered to keep quiet when police knocked on the apartment door.
"I remember ... he was trying to position me on my hands and knees," the woman told NBC4. "It was very painful ... I remember my eyes shutting down, I felt heavy. My innocence in believing in people has been taken away,” she said.
Local news from across Southern California
According to court documents LAPD officers found the woman inside Gomez’s fourth floor apartment on Ninth Street on Feb. 3, 2019. She was treated at a hospital for drug intoxication and released. She reported the assault to the LAPD a day later, and Gomez was arrested.
Gomez left his job with the South Gate police sometime in 2018, said Capt. Darren Arakawa, following Gomez's guilty plea and sentence in a misdemeanor child abuse case in San Luis Obispo County.
Gomez and his brother, at the time also a police officer, were accused of mistreating several children at a military-style boot camp. The children claimed in a lawsuit they were locked in a plywood box or closet and were punched and kicked as punishment.
As part of the investigation into the 2019 downtown LA incident LAPD detectives served a search warrant at Gomez's apartment, and according to records filed in LA Superior Court, discovered what appeared to be illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia, handgun and rifle ammunition, drug packaging material, and a scale.
Criminalists swabbed what appeared to blood and semen stains and took cheek swabs from Gomez himself for DNA comparisons. The search warrant documents describe the case as a rape investigation.
Three months later the LA County District Attorney's Office told the woman that no criminal charges would be filed, citing insufficient evidence. "Victim and suspect are acquaintances," a prosecutor wrote in rejecting the case May 3.
The woman who reported the assault said it felt like the Deputy DA didn't respect or understand what she had been through, even after she related her account of the incident in an interview with the prosecutor.
"The first question was like, if I was ever interested in the perpetrator," she said. "Like romantically, if I was ever attracted to him. Why would he ask, because after everything I'd experienced, I didn't know how that was even relevant."
"In a way I thought that they were breaking me down as a victim, about how credible I was, instead of focusing on the crime itself," she said.
The woman said her sole intention in meeting Gomez that night was to get advice for an upcoming job interview. The two had become acquainted through work years ago, but the woman said they did not know each other well. "We had never really been friends or anything like that," she said.
The DA's Office would not discuss the reasons the Gomez case was rejected. "The declination speaks for itself and our office declines further comment," a spokesperson said in an email in September.
"I can't explain how frustrating this for a survivor," said Bettina Robinson, an intervention programs manager at Peace Over Violence, a nonprofit group that advocates for sexual assault victims.
"The hesitancy in filing this case is disappointing, and while I can't speak to 'why,' it speaks to why survivors lack faith in the justice system," Robinson said.
For the woman who hoped her case would one day be presented to a jury in court, she said the inaction of prosecutors has been upsetting.
"To me it just kind of contributes to the whole idea of rape culture, where ... I almost feel like the victim is judged," she said. "We're judged and broken-down to how credible we are, but then perpetrators are never held responsible for anything. Even if we report and do all the right things, and there's nothing done, how are we going to stop this problem?"