LAPD officers James Christopher Nichols and Luis Gustavo Valenzuela were charged today with rape under color of authority for their acts on the job over a course of years from 2008 to 2011 by the Los Angeles County district attorney.
But that wasn’t all.
The pair of Hollywood narcotics detectives were charged with forcible rape, and oral copulation under color of authority for using their badges to manipulate women who were informants or suspects into performing sexual acts with the cops, while they were on paid duty.
Valenzuela alone was charged with assault for using his service weapon in commission of a crime, threatening one of the female victims.
It all started in January 2010, when Nichols and Valenzuela were accused by four women – who were either suspects or informants – of coercing them into sexual acts, or to face the consequences of legal action, while the two veteran cops were on duty.
The first internal affairs investigator said that he was unable to locate the victim, and didn’t follow up on the case.
But more complaints would arrive shortly, and the second investigator managed to “find” the first accuser and take her statement, which began the process of justice coming to LAPD’s two accused sex predator cops.
By 2011, Valenzuela was transferred away to LAPD’s “Olympic division” and Nichols was transferred to “Northeast division.”
Once there, Nichols continued to collect complaints, many from prostitutes near Dodgers Stadium in the Echo Park neighborhood.
Eighteen months later, absolutely nothing happened.
The LA Times reported in 2013 that, “For reasons not explained in the warrant, the department’s investigation made little progress for the next 18 months,” which you can see below with redactions of the victims names.
Meanwhile, the two accused sex offender officers remained employed by LAPD.
Nichols even managed to find headlines in 2012 after the transfer, for breaking the nose of a former Co-Chariman of Universal Motion Pictures, for which he was ultimately slapped with a federal police brutality lawsuit. Ultimately, Nichols was exonerated in court for that incident based on testimony that the Hollywood big-shot had ingested bath salts, the verdict issued in 2014.
But back in 2013, LAPD, Nichols and Valenzuela were hit with a Federal Civil rights complaint from a victim who remained locked in jail on drug charges. Finally, the Los Angeles cops internal affairs department conducted a search and seizure of the two officers’ phones.
In fact, LAPD investigators found two other women claiming similar acts of sexual misconduct.
By 2014, the writing was on the wall for the two officers, as the City of Los Angeles gave $575,000 to their victim to settle just one of the Federal lawsuits swirling about the tainted cops, but nobody would fire them. The LAPD Chief of Police doesn’t have rights to fire any officer, those decisions rest with a civilian review board, before which the officers were ordered to appear in November 2014 at which time the two officers were finally placed on unpaid suspension.
Fifteen months later, and we’ve finally got criminal charges.