Federal judge Michael Anello ruled last week that an ongoing sexual assault case against former San Diego policeman Anthony Arevalos would move forward. After hearing evidence from both the victim and from Arevalos’ attorneys, the judge decided that the case should be heard by a jury. The trial is slated to begin in July.
A Lengthy Fight for the Victim
The initial phase of the case against Arevalos has been ongoing for weeks. Attorneys for the former SDPD policeman tried to fight against a jury trial, barely skirting around tactics that could be considered victim shaming. After Anello ruled weeks before that sexual assault and battery did occur, Arevalos attorneys were hoping to at least keep the case away from a jury, as juries are known for being especially hard in cases of this nature.
Even with this minor victory for Jane Doe, the road before her remains long. This next phase will determine what recompense the victim is entitled to and how much the City of San Diego is liable for and the punishment Arevalos is to receive. It’s important to note, however, that even if Arevalos is found guilty, punishments for these types of crimes are remarkably forgiving, especially when compared to other states. Simple assault and battery is a misdemeanor, only punishable by up to a $1,000 fine, 6 months in prison, and similar terms in probation, community service, and anger management programs. Adding a sexual component to the charges, Arevalos may still only see a maximum of four years and a $10,000 fine for his assault of Ms. Doe.
Another Hit to Confidence in the SDPD
The case serves as yet another blow to the integrity of the San Diego police department. Last summer, one Ahmed Omar brought charges against the city after multiple officers allegedly attacked him. That case was eventually settled out of court. Unfortunately, cases like that brought by Omar and that which Doe now fights in the justice system are continuations of a long history of police brutality and abuse of power in “America’s Finest City.”
The city’s reputation is so prevalent as to be wielded like a weapon in cases such as that of Ms. Doe vs. Arevalos. In their arguments for a trial by jury, attorneys for the plaintiff argued that an environment of covering up the misbehavior of problem officers, like Anthony Arevalos, continues to lead directly to cases of sexual assault and other violent crimes committed by the SDPD. It’s should be no surprise, then, that the outcome in this case will be seen not only as a judgement of one wayward officer’s conduct but as an indictment of the SDPD as a whole.