Victims of serious allegations against the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department are coming forward after they say they were sexually assaulted while on home detention.
They say it was part of a scheme by correctional deputy assigned to the jail to engage in sex acts with female inmates.
Christian Heidecker, 32, was arrested earlier this month and faces eighteen 18 felony charges for engaging in rape, bribery and sextortion. He was placed on administrative leave from the agency, though lawyers representing two alleged victims in the case referred to him as a former deputy.
“We are here because we’d like other victims to come forward and not to be afraid,” one victim said during a news conference announcing legal action against the county.
“We just want justice because, as you see and hear, there’s crimes being done. Inside the jails is horrors being done to us,” another said. The victims were only identified by their initials during the news conference.
Attorneys claim the department tried to cover up Heidecker’s crimes, and that county officials were offering a settlement agreement the day before the former deputy turned himself in.
“Knocking on their doors offering them $1,000 to keep their mouth shut, so that they don’t sue the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department for allowing that animal to continue to victimize them while he has control in their custody,” attorney Denisse Gastelum, who represents the two victims, said.
She is calling for a federal investigation, claiming a criminal enterprise is running out of the jails involving rape, bribery, extortion and an infestation of fentanyl after another deputy was caught with more than 44 pounds of drugs.
“Make no mistake, that is a criminal organization that’s being run out of the jails,” Gastelum said.
Attorneys filed a claim against the county Tuesday and plan to file a formal lawsuit in the coming months.
The victims in this case are seeking an undisclosed monetary compensation for damages.
Meanwhile, investigators with the Sheriff’s Department believe Heidecker may have victimized more people. Anyone with additional information about him, or believes they may have been victimized, is asked to call Investigator R. Deanne at 951-955-2777.