Sergio Alvarez’s estranged wife likened him to a firestorm that destroyed everything in his path. His family. His home. His marriage. His law enforcement career. The lives of the women he kidnapped and raped.
“Sergio did not choose to stop raping women,” read Rachael Alvarez’s letter, recited by a court advocate at the former West Sacramento police officer’s sentencing Friday in Yolo Superior Court. “He was stopped.”
Now the ex-cop, husband and father of three will spend the rest of his life behind bars, sentenced to 205 years on 18 counts of kidnapping and sexually assaulting women while patrolling the graveyard shift. A Yolo County jury in February found Alvarez guilty on the 18 counts but deadlocked on 10 others.
“These were reprehensible crimes,” West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon said after Alvarez’s sentencing. “He violated the sacred oath he took and the trust of the city he served. It’s an appropriate sentence for the crimes he committed.”
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Alvarez, 38, sat expressionless as Judge Timothy Fall meted out multiple 25-years-to-life sentences for forced oral copulation and rape; 7 years-to-life terms for kidnapping; and more years still for rape and oral copulation under color of authority.
Throughout Friday’s sentencing, a packed courtroom that included a row of Alvarez family members sat hushed. Alvarez’s family and defense attorney J. Toney declined comment after the proceedings.
Alvarez’s sentencing ends a disturbing chapter for West Sacramento and its police department. One of their own cruised the overnight streets in 2011 and 2012, targeting women on the margins – prostitutes, addicts – and forcing himself on them.
His victims were “down-and-outers,” as lead Yolo County prosecutor Garrett Hamilton called them – women who Alvarez assumed would not be believed if they came forward.
Alvarez checked through warrant files like shopping lists to select one of his victims. He stopped others on the pretense that they were under the influence before hauling them away. Alvarez sexually attacked the women in his patrol car, DNA evidence showed. He also attacked them in back alleys and wooded lots.
“They were selected by Sergio Alvarez,” Hamilton said at trial.
In September 2012, one of the women went to police, triggering a months-long investigation and a Yolo County Grand Jury indictment that led to Alvarez’s arrest in 2013.
After the February verdict, West Sacramento Police Chief Thomas McDonald said he was conducting a “line-by-line” review of department policies and procedures in the wake of Alvarez’s crimes.
“Our hearts go out to the victims,” Lt. Tod Sockman, a police spokesman, said Friday.
Alvarez sat shackled at the waist in a Yolo Superior Court jury box as his wife’s words rained down.
Rachael Alvarez described a violent man out of control, who “lost the moral compass and direction in his life.” His moods became darker, his increasingly suspicious behavior “alarming.”
Alvarez in the letter said she finally packed up their three children, pets and clothes and fled out of state to escape a man who “became my abuser, not my husband or friend.”
Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig, in a statement, said, “Alvarez will never be able to harm again.”
But Rachael Alvarez said the damage had already been done.
“Sergio Alvarez was the fire that destroyed my family’s home,” her letter read. “It will take years to rebuild what this fire has consumed.”