A former Monterey Park police officer was convicted Monday of 14 felonies for crimes he committed against three women during traffic stops, in which he forced them to expose themselves and fondled two of them.
The seven-man, five-woman jury panel deliberated for less than five hours before finding Israel Sanchez, 41, guilty of all the charges against him: five counts each of sexual battery by restraint and assault under color of authority, three counts of false imprisonment and one count of soliciting a bribe.
He is being held without bail and is scheduled to be sentenced on April 24.
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Prosecutors said the crimes were committed between July 28 and Aug. 15, 2014, against victims who were 20 to 28 years old at the time.
Deputy District Attorney Hyunah Suh pointed to similar testimony from all three victims.
"They had no motive to come in here and lie," Suh said in her closing argument, telling jurors the three were "not coming to court because they had a vendetta or some secret agenda."
Suh said Sanchez "preyed" on women who found themselves in vulnerable circumstances and said he "needlessly insist(ed) on searches," even after one had already been conducted.
The prosecutor said Sanchez should have relied on his own advice. He was heard on tape telling one of the women, "Fate should have it that if you're doing bad things, you're going to get caught."
Defense attorney Michael Goldfeder countered that the alleged sexual abuse never took place and suggested that the victims were trying to "get back" at a police officer.
"There is no possible way this officer would ever do those acts," Goldfeder told the jury.
Three other women testified as character witnesses for the defense, and Goldfeder told jurors they could acquit Sanchez based on that testimony alone.
The defense also noted Sanchez' service as a "decorated Marine" and the fact that is a married father of three children.
Family and friends of the defendant tried to console one another after the verdict was read, with one sobbing uncontrollably after Sanchez was taken away by a deputy and the judge had left the courtroom.