Former Ventura County sheriff’s deputy found guilty of sexual misconduct with inmate

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Leonard Lopez is shown in a photo released by the Ventura County Sheriff's Office on Sept. 23, 2019.

Leonard Lopez is shown in a photo released by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 23, 2019.

A judge ruled a former deputy in Ventura is guilty of sexual misconduct with an inmate after the woman reported the encounter to jail staff in 2019.

Ventura County Superior Court Judge Gilbert Romero said Leonard Lopez, 49, pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges, including being a peace officer engaged in a sexual act with an inmate and entering a cell occupied by an inmate of the opposite sex, the Ventura Country Star reported.

Court documents obtained through a public records request show the sheriff’s office had terminated Lopez in September 2020, a year after the incident. He was previously on paid administrative leave.

Lopez was assigned to the special housing unit of the county jail where the woman, who was not identified, was recovering from a medical issue, authorities said. The woman filed a federal civil lawsuit against Lopez and the county in February, arguing civil rights violations. Both the county and Lopez have denied the allegations.

Criminal charges were filed later and Lopez initially denied the allegations. However, Lopez’s attorney entered no contest pleas on his behalf on Wednesday. His attorney did not return requests for comment.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Tony Wold said the woman in the case has since been released from the Ventura County jail and will be given the opportunity to make a statement at a sentencing hearing, currently scheduled for June 24.

Lopez could face up to 180 days in prison and a year of probation, authorities said.

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