Woman files suit alleging assault by cop

A 30-year-old woman described as “mentally disabled” alleges in a federal lawsuit filed Monday that she was sexually assaulted by a West Sacramento police officer who is now facing criminal charges related to attacks on seven women.

The lawsuit charges that Officer Sergio Alvarez subjected the woman to forced copulation and sodomy during two separate attacks between May 1 and Sept. 26 last year.

The suit declared that Alvarez engaged in “sexually predatory conduct.” It accused the officer of a “pattern of hunting for his prey as a hyena hunts for vulnerable victims,” saying the officer’s conduct “was common knowledge among the downtrodden, female denizens in the vicinity of West Sacramento’s West Capitol (Avenue).”

The suit charged that, in the first incident, Alvarez “arrested and handcuffed” the woman “and placed her in his police car.” It said she “did not resist, submitted to his authority and entered the vehicle as ordered.”

Instead of taking her to jail, the suit alleges, Alvarez “took her to the area behind the Little Caesar’s on Jefferson Boulevard. While there, he compelled her to engage in oral sex without the protection of a condom.”

The legal complaint said the plaintiff “did not physically resist because she feared incarceration, a new arrest or potentially inflated criminal charges and further physical harm.” It said: “After the oral sex act was completed to Officer Alvarez’s satisfaction, she exited the vehicle and walked away. Officer Alvarez did not attempt to stop her.”

About a week later, Alvarez detained the woman, again ordered her into his police car and took her to the same spot, where “he forced her to engage in oral copulation and then sodomized her,” again without the protection of a condom, the suit says.

Alvarez, 38, is charged in an amended grand jury indictment filed Oct. 4 with kidnapping, rape, forced oral copulation and sodomy. The indictment lists attacks on seven women, including the plaintiff in Monday’s civil suit, who are identified only as “confidential victim(s).”

J. Toney, a prominent Yolo County criminal defense lawyer who represents Alvarez, declined to comment Monday.

Sometime after the second attack, according to the suit, the plaintiff “attempted to complain” to West Sacramento police Officers Jason Mahaffey and Chris Wright, but neither “took any steps to address her complaint until after Officer Alvarez was arrested” in February.

She “next attempted to complain when she was handcuffed and in the back of a patrol car and being taken to jail by West Sacramento police Officer Lindsay Lam,” the civil suit charges. “Lam did not respond to these seemingly shocking allegations.”

Lt. Tod Sockman declined to comment Monday on behalf of the Police Department.

Jeffrey Mitchell, attorney for West Sacramento, did not respond to a message seeking comment left Monday at his Sacramento office.

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Stewart Katz, names as defendants West Sacramento, Alvarez, and now-retired Police Chief Dan Drummond. It seeks monetary damages in an unspecified amount.

Mahaffey, Wright and Lam, none of whom are defendants in the suit, could not be reached for comment.

After Alvarez’s arrest in February, Sockman said the allegations came to light Sept. 24, 2012, when one of the victims came into contact with a West Sacramento patrol officer. Sockman said department officials immediately opened criminal and administrative investigations and that Alvarez was put on paid administrative leave. Department officials also reached out to the Sacramento Police Department to help investigate, he said.

At a news conference on the day Alvarez was arrested, Drummond said the officer had been served with his termination paperwork. He remains in custody pending trial in lieu of bail set at $26.3 million.

Drummond said Alvarez joined the department in 2007 and worked as a patrol officer, most recently on the graveyard shift.

Monday’s civil suit says an attorney representing the plaintiff in “her plethora of minor criminal offenses” in Yolo Superior Court, told the judge March 19 that he believed his client “was so mentally impaired that she was unable to assist in her criminal defense.”

The judge ordered an evaluation. On May 13, after reviewing the psychiatrist’s report, the judge found her to be incompetent and ordered that “she be hospitalized and involuntarily receive psychiatric medication if medically ordered,” the suit says.

Since then, the suit says, she has been continuously hospitalized – first in a hospital’s psychiatric ward and then at a mental health facility.

Due to her condition, she is suing through her mother acting as her guardian.