Following an investigation by the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD), a Monterey Park police officer was charged with sexually assaulting three women while on duty, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.
Officer Israel Sanchez, 40, was arrested without incident Monday at his Whittier residence and scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center. He is charged with three counts of false imprisonment, one count of bribery, two counts of assault under color of authority and four counts of sexual battery by restraint, all felonies, the district attorney’s office said in a statement.
“While on duty, Sanchez allegedly forced each victim to expose herself during a stop,” a release stated. “In two instances, he allegedly touched the victims after ordering them to expose themselves.”
The victims, who were between 20 and 28 years old, were allegedly assaulted between July 28, 2014 and August 15, 2014.
The case was investigated by the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) at the request of Monterey Park police Chief Jim Smith who has a good working relationship with both the current and former police chiefs. According to Smith, the investigation was launched following a complaint the department received.
“We wanted an independent body, not somebody that was close to us, somebody a little further distance from us that we could bring in,” Smith said.
The LBPD began investigating in September 2014.
“It is not uncommon for a law enforcement agency to ask an outside agency to conduct an independent investigation of an incident in which an employee may be involved,” LBPD officials said in a statement.
If convicted, the defendant faces more than eight years in state prison. Prosecutors will ask that his bail be set at $345,000.
The investigation remains ongoing. Detectives believe additional victims may exist in the area of Monterey Park and encourage anyone with information regarding this case to call the Long Beach Police Department Sex Crimes Detail at 562.570.7368.
This story was updated at 12:38PM on May 17 with information from the LBPD.
Above, left photo of suspect Israel Sanchez courtesy of the LBPD.