One of the women assaulted by a former San Diego County sheriff's deputy said she was relieved the man who touched her inappropriately three years ago pleaded guilty. However, she said she was concerned none of the charges in the plea agreement were a sex crime.
"It's like a happy day but then it's like, wait a minute - it's not complete justice," Michelle told NBC 7 Monday. She agreed to speak with NBC 7 on camera but we are not using her last name.
Richard Fischer, 33, pleaded guilty to four felony counts of assault and battery by an officer, two counts of misdemeanor assault by an officer and one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment.
The former San Diego County sheriff’s deputy admitted to assaulting 16 women while on duty and in uniform, including women who had called the department for help or to report a crime.
One of those women was Michelle who was touched inappropriately by Fischer while she was riding a bicycle in Lakeside.
She said it was frightening to come forward. She wasn't sure if there would be retaliation.
"My mom was worried for me," she said. "But you have to disclose this."
Then, when she testified at a pretrial hearing, she felt the defense attorney was trying to discredit what happened to her. It was his word against the word of the women who came forward.
Now that the former deputy pleaded guilty, she feels vindicated.
"It's just good to know - see, I wasn't lying. We weren't making this up. There's people, there's officers that are crooked," she added.
A plea agreement was reached on the day the trial was scheduled to begin. She believes Fischer took the best option given he was faced with multiple women accusing him of sexual misconduct.
However, even though there is some closure, she said she has been affected by it. She still doesn't trust members of law enforcement.
"I'm scared to talk to them," she said. "They have a lot of power."
An amended criminal complaint was filed with the seven charges against 16 women, far fewer and less severe than the 20 charges the District Attorney's Office had at one point filed against the former deputy; all charges of sexual assault were dropped.
The women accuse Fischer of hugging or kissing them without consent, groping their bodies and even forcing them to perform oral copulation during incidents between 2015 and 2017 in several communities including Vista, Lakeside, El Cajon and San Marcos.
Fischer faces up to five years in prison, four years on parole and a lifetime registration as a sex offender when he is sentenced.
To see a full timeline of the criminal case against Fischer, click here.