A Santa Ana woman on Wednesday accused a California Highway Patrol officer of groping her on the side of the freeway during a traffic stop and later going to her home and sexually assaulting her again.
The officer stopped Ruth Chavez and her husband while traveling southbound on the 5 Freeway near the Redhill Avenue exit on April 6 around 5:30 p.m., lawyer Juan J. Dominguez said at a news conference on Wednesday.
The couple pulled over to the side of the road and the officer wrote them a citation for an expired license plate, Dominguez said.
The officer then allegedly asked Chavez, who was sitting in the passenger seat, to exit and walk to the back of the vehicle while her husband stayed inside. The officer then proceeded to grope her, Chavez said.
Two hours after the traffic stop, that same officer allegedly went to Chavez’s apartment complex in Santa Ana and asked her to come to the parking lot. The officer sexually assaulted her again by his SUV patrol car, stopping only when the a neighbor appeared nearby, Dominguez’s firm said in a statement.
Before leaving, the officer allegedly told Chavez that he’d return the next week.
Dominguez said the officer communicated with Chavez, a Spanish-speaker, through a translation website.
The Santa Ana Police Department started an investigation after the incident was reported, Dominguez said.
The attorney, who did not publicly disclose the officer’s name, claimed that the agency possessed surveillance video from the apartment complex that potentially captured the assault. Detective Maria Lopez with the department, however, said she could not confirm anything about the case.
Chavez appeared alongside her lawyer at Wednesday’s press conference. Visibly crying, she said she was speaking out to seek justice and make sure the officer doesn’t assault someone else.
Dominguez asked possible witnesses and other victims to come forward.