Ex-San Bernardino Officer Arrested for Sex Crimes While on Duty
By Derek Obregon
This story takes us all the way across state borders for the arrest of a former San Bernardino Police Officer. Forty-six-year-old Jose Jesus Perez of Menifee was taken into custody without incident by local authorities in Denton, Texas. He was doing what only a bad cop would be capable of and abusing his rights as an officer in uniform. He was formally indicted in federal court in Riverside on federal civil rights charges for allegedly forcing two prostitutes to perform sexual acts while he was in uniform.
An investigation began earlier after Police Chief Robert Handy received a complaint in July 2012 and that December, Perez was terminated as the criminal investigation went on.
“The charges in this case describe disgraceful abuses of police authority that simply cannot be tolerated in our society,” U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said. “The San Bernardino Police Department understands this type of conduct deserves sure and swift action, and I thank them for promptly referring the matter to us and working with us to obtain this indictment. We are committed to ensuring that the public is lawfully served by its peace officers.”
On April 25, 2011, Perez groped a woman and forced her into oral sex by attacking and threatening her with his firearm. Perez is accused of aggravated sexual abuse and attempted sexual abuse, the use and threatening use of a weapon, kidnapping and attempted kidnapping.
“I think it’s an embarrassment for all of us,” Handy said. “I think the good thing for us is we investigated him completely and are holding him accountable just as we would a civilian—in fact, he’s being held to a higher standard.” This is because he was acting “under color of law” so the charges are worse.
Perez began his career with the Los Angeles Police Department in 1997 and was hired by the San Bernardino Police Department in 2008. All of the charges allegedly happened in 2011. The two prostitutes agreed to the police officers demands because they feared for their lives.
Assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, Bill L. Lewis, said, “Mr. Perez allegedly violated the civil rights of victims he vowed to protect, instead of gaining their trust and providing them with the basic respect all members of a community deserve.” He also violated the trust of his fellow officers and the entire city of San Bernardino.
Handy said that multiple steps are always taken to insure that actions like this don’t happen, including a careful hiring process with extensive supervision. “Unfortunately, we hire humans and sometimes they do things like this.”
If the former officer is convicted, he could be looking at four life terms in federal prison. He is scheduled to have an initial court appearance in the U.S. District Court of Sherman, Texas.