BREAKING UPDATE: An Indio police officer accused of sexually assaulting a woman has been acquitted on all counts in Riverside court today.
A Riverside jury deliberated one day before finding 36-year-old Sergio Ramirez of Palm Desert not guilty of forcible rape, forced oral copulation and bodily injury from sexual penetration.
On Monday, Sergio Ramirez testified that the victim was “participating in and enjoying” their sexual encounter until the father of two stopped it over regrets about cheating on his spouse.
He’s charged with forcible rape, forced oral copulation and bodily injury from sexual penetration.
“She did not express any unwillingness or desire to stop,” Ramirez testified under questioning by his attorney, Michael Schwartz. “She was participating in and enjoying what was taking place.”
The alleged victim, identified in court documents only as Jane Doe, testified last week that Ramirez forced himself on her after coming into her bedroom in the middle of the night, sexually assaulting her in several ways as his wife and children slept down the hall.
According to Ramirez, he was mildly intoxicated and no longer sharing a bed with his wife at the time of the encounter with the young woman.
The defendant testified that the summer of 2016 had been stressful, with mounting marital troubles that led to his exile to loft space at their Palm Desert residence.
Ramirez said communication with his wife was so strained that he turned to the victim, as a “go-between,” relaying messages to the 18-year-old that he hoped would be transmitted to his hostile spouse.
On the night of Aug. 5, 2016, Ramirez said he went to the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon with a friend to see a concert. The lawman admitted drinking for several hours and spending extra time at the casino until he was sober enough to drive home.
He said he immediately showered because he couldn’t stand the smell of smoke that had soaked his clothes at the concert. Afterward, he said, he went to the bedroom alternately used by his son, Jacob, and the victim. The defendant said he wanted to rest somewhere other than the loft sofa for the
sake of his back and flopped down in the bed, which was empty. However, he said he got up and went back to the sofa, fearing it “would not look well” to be in the bedroom if the young woman, whom he initially believed was out with friends, returned.
Ramirez said when he reached the L-shaped sofa, he spotted the alleged victim sleeping on one half of it, and he laid down on the vacant half. He acknowledged becoming aroused.
“There were problems at home. (She) had been flirtatious. I thought she might be attracted to me, so I decided to explore some contact,” he testified.
Ramirez said he progressed slowly, engaging in “foreplay,” including caressing the young woman between her legs, to which she seemed “receptive and comfortable,” spreading her legs apart, providing what he perceived to be an invitation to engage in oral sex.
After several minutes, Ramirez said he told Jane Doe that they should go into the bedroom for privacy. The defendant broke down in tears, describing himself as awash in guilt now because of his decision then to cheat on his wife — with her under the same roof — despite their disintegrating marriage.
According to the witness, he and the young woman had intercourse in the bedroom alternately used by her and his son. He said the alleged victim directed part of the activity. But after a few minutes, Ramirez said he desisted and walked away.
“It hit me, I guess, what I was doing,” he testified tearfully.
Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Deana Bohenek sought to cast doubt on Ramirez’s version of events.
On cross-examination, she elicited an acknowledgment that he had once remarked to the young woman that she looked “hot in your short-shorts” and he had noticed her parading about the house in her bikini and other skimpy articles.
Ramirez also said he had given Jane Doe $1,000 for help with expenses, and he let her utilize his laptop computer.
The victim told sheriff’s detectives that she was asleep when Ramirez joined her in her bed, obviously intoxicated.
According to the woman, she was afraid and tried to lay perfectly still when the police officer began assaulting her. She told investigators that she managed to wriggle free and go to a different room, but Ramirez allegedly followed her and continued the assault.
Afterward, the alleged victim fled to a friend’s home down the street, and then went to Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, where she underwent a sexual assault examination.
DNA results from that exam revealed Ramirez’s DNA — through saliva — on one of her breasts, according to testimony.
Ramirez’s wife allegedly joined Jane Doe at the hospital and tried to persuade her to leave without undergoing the exam, but a nurse intervened, according to investigators.
Ramirez was arrested on Aug. 31, 2016. He’s on unpaid administrative leave from the police department and currently working construction. He’s free on an $85,000 bond.
Noticias en español: Telemundo 15