A police officer in the Central Valley is under investigation after two women came forward and accused him of sexual assaulting them while he was on duty, officials said Friday.
The two women do not know each other, but their stories have marked similarities — including 26-year-old Woodlake Police Officer Oscar Robles allegedly being in uniform when the assaults occurred, Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said in a press conference.
Boudreaux also said he believes there are additional victims.
An investigation was opened after deputies patrolling in the Visalia area on Tuesday came across a man and a woman walking. They stopped to check on the pair, and during their conversation the woman told them she wanted to file a complaint against a Woodlake officer who sexually assaulted her, the sheriff said.
The case was handed over to detectives, who interviewed numerous people. That led them to discover the second victim, according to Boudreaux.
Robles was subsequently arrested on Thursday on suspicion of penetration with a foreign object, false imprisonment, assault under the color of authority and intimidation of a victim.
Authorities have not released further information about the victims or alleged assaults, other than that they occurred mostly around the city of Woodlake.
Boudreaux said Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward has promised the case will take priority, and his staff will review it over the weekend. Although prosecutors have hundreds of hours of interview to sort through, Boudreaux said, he is hopeful that charges will be filed on Monday.
Meanwhile, Robles has been placed on administrative leave, Woodlake Police Chief Mike Marquez said. The Visalia Police Department is also assisting the agency in conducting an internal affairs investigation that will look into Robles’ personnel history and record at the department.
“This is a shock, not only to the law enforcement community, but also to the citizens of Woodlake,” Marquez said. “We assure you justice will be sought.”
According to Marquez, Robles was hired in May 2014, and had never worked as a police officer before that.
The officer is also being actively investigated for his role in a controversial police shooting that left a teenager paralyzed last year, according to the Visalia Times-Delta.
Robles was being held at the Kings County Jail, an arrangement Boudreaux said he requested for the suspect’s protection.
“(Robles) is likely to have made multiple arrests, likely to have cases pending, and some of those people who he had arrested are likely sitting in the Tulare County Jail,” the sheriff said.
The investigation remains in its early stages, Boudreaux noted, adding that he wanted to make sure additional victims were aware they can come forward with their story and “he can cause you no more harm.”
“We’re here for you, we will protect you and we will not stand for this type of activity in the law enforcement field,” Boudreaux said.
Anyone with information can contact the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office at 559-733-6218. Anonymous tips may be submitted via 559-725-4194 or email@example.com.