Officers Luis Valenzuela and James Nichols are two LAPD officers accused of luring women into unmarked cars and forcing them to have sex. Internal Affairs is investigating the allegations which apparently cover a period of five years. Valenzuela and Nichols were partners in the narcotics division of the Hollywood station. They are accused of threatening women with jail in order to force them into their car and then driving to a secluded area where one officer would force a woman to have sex while the other officer stood watch.
At least four separate women have come forward independently to corroborate the allegations. Search warrants have already been executed for their phones and computers.
Although the officers may not have used physical force, they can each be charged with rape, pursuant to Penal Code section 261. Penal Code section 261(a) defines rape as sexual intercourse with someone that is not your spouse under certain circumstances. One of the circumstances, outlined by Penal Code section 261(a)(7), is where the act is accomplished against the victim’s will by threatening to use the authority of a public official to incarcerate, arrest, or deport the victim or another, and the victim has a reasonable belief that the perpetrator is a public official.
Rape is punishable by up to 8 years in state prison and a conviction for rape requires mandatory lifetime registration as a sex offender pursuant to Penal Code section 290. There are crimes that can also be charged against the officers, including conspiracy to commit rape and kidnapping. Rape and kidnapping are both strike offenses. Both officers can be held responsible for all the victims because any suspect who aids and abets someone committing a crime can be punished to the same extent as the person committing the crime.