James Nichols & Luis Valenzuela, Two Los Angeles Police Officers, Charged With Sexual Assaults
James Nichols and Luis Valenzuela, a pair of LAPD officers, have been formerly charged with raping several women. According to authorities, Nichols and Valenzuela, who were partners, sexually assaulted four women between 2008 and 2011 – and in one instance used a gun to force the victim to perform sexual acts.
James Nichols and Luis Valenzuela are heading to prison for a very long time if their accusers have their way. On Wednesday, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced that two officers from the Los Angeles Police Department, who were accused of a long list of crimes, had been charged.
According to officials, Nichols, 44, and 43-year-old Valenzuela have been accused by four women ages 19, 24, 25, and 34 of rape. Valenzuela was an 18-year veteran of the LAPD, and Nichols was with the department for over 15 years.
The sexual assaults took place between December 2008 and March 2011 while the duo, who were also partners, were on duty as part of the department’s Hollywood Division. The DA said in a statement that all four women had been arrested multiple times by the two officers for “narcotics-related offenses.”
The first allegations were brought in 2010 by a woman, who confessed to her supervisor that the officers stopped her more than a year earlier and threatened to arrest her if she did not perform sexual acts.
In 2014, another woman, who claimed that the officers raped her, settled a $575,000 lawsuit against the city. The unnamed victim told authorities that Nichols and Valenzuela, who were working as narcotics detectives at the time, had arrested her in 2010, then offered to help her through the trial if she acted as an informant and had sexual relations with both of them. The woman’s attorney, Dennis Chang, said at the time:
“Their power over her was abundantly clear from the get go.”
Two other women, whose identities have not been revealed, came forward with similar stories with one of them revealing that Valenzuela pointed a gun at her to force her to perform sexual acts. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said:
“I will say again, any officer that abuses the public’s trust is not welcome in the LAPD and we will continue vigorously investigating officers accused of alleged crimes and cooperate fully with the District Attorney’s office,”
Los Angeles Police Protective League President Craig Lally added:
“The arrests are deeply disturbing, but should not cloud the efforts of the more than 9,900 officers who risk their lives daily to keep our city safe.”
James Nichols and Luis Valenzuela were charged with multiple counts each of sexual assault, including forcible rape, rape under color of authority, oral copulation under color of authority and oral copulation by force. Valenzuela faces an additional charge of assault with a firearm.
Nichols and Valenzuela will be arraigned on Thursday and prosecutors plan to ask that bail be set at $3.83 million for Nichols and $3.76 million for Valenzuela. If convicted, both men face up to life in prison.
Anyone with information about the case is urged to call the DA’s Office or the LAPD at 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247).
What are your thoughts on the arrests of James Nichols and Luis Valenzuela?