A Menifee man and former police officer has been arrested on suspicion of forcing prostitutes to perform sex acts while he was in uniform and/or carrying a gun.
Jose Jesus Perez, 46, was arrested without incident Thursday in Denton, Texas, by officers with the Denton Police Department at the request of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The arrest follows an indictment Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Riverside on federal civil rights charges, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“The charges in this case describe disgraceful abuses of police authority that simply cannot be tolerated in our society,” said U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. “The San Bernardino Police Department understands that 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.”
Perez became a police officer in 1997, when he was hired by the Los Angeles Police Department. Perez worked for the LAPD until 2008, when he went to work for the San Bernardino Police Department. Perez was released from employment by SBPD in December, according to the news release.
Wednesday’s indictment, which was unsealed following Perez’s arrest, alleges that he forcibly had sex with two women who told investigators that they engaged in the sex acts demanded by Perez only because they feared for their well-being because he was a police officer, the news release stated.
The indictment alleges that on April 25, 2011, Perez groped a woman and caused her to perform oral sex by using force against her. According to the indictment, the attack resulted in bodily injury to the victim, constituted aggravated sexual abuse, involved the use of a dangerous weapon (Perez’s service weapon), and resulted in the kidnapping of the victim, the news release stated.
The remaining three counts in the indictment charge Perez with unlawfully having sexual intercourse with a woman on three occasions in August and September 2011. According to a criminal complaint filed last month and also unsealed Thursday, this victim “feared that if she refused Perez’s sexual advances he could and would make her life difficult.” She told investigators that she believed she would experience “problems” if she did not cooperate with Perez’s requests, according to the complaint.
“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,” said Bill L. Lewis, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office. “By his alleged actions, Mr. Perez also violated the trust of his fellow officers and the community he swore to serve as a police officer in the city of San Bernardino. The FBI values its relationship with partnering local police and appreciates the support provided by the San Bernardino Police Department in this case.”
Perez is expected to make his initial court appearance Friday in U.S. District Court in Sherman, Texas. Each of the four counts in the indictment carry a statutory maximum penalty of life in federal prison.
The investigation into Perez was conducted by the San Bernardino Police Department and the FBI, the news release stated.
It is not clear why Perez was in Denton or whether he had fled there from Southern California to escape local investigators.
—By Toni McAllister