LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (August 11, 2022) – An L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy identified as Sean Essex has been charged with sexually abusing four underage girls, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The deputy was charged with repeatably abusing three sisters who were underage. One of the girls was less than 10 years old at the time of the abuse. A fourth charge stemmed from an alleged incident in 2006 that the district attorney’s office previously declined to prosecute.
Prosecutors have not indicated why they previously declined to pursue the first case against deputy Sean Essex. Authorities believe that the deputy was in a romantic relationship with the mother of the victims at first.
He was apparently living wit the girls when he sexually abused two of them, according to the indictment. Some of the abuse allegedly occurred in the parking lot of the Sheriff’s Department.
The mother of the three girls said that deputy Sean Essex had been sexually assaulting her daughters for years. He has been charged with 18 counts of oral copulation with a child and 12 counts of performing lewd acts on a child under age 14. He also faces two counts of continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14.
The deputy has since been fired and a full investigation remains ongoing at this time.
Liability For Sexual Abuse By California Police Officers
Police sexual misconduct is far more pervasive than many people may realize. Police officers have a lot of power and some officers abuse their authority to perpetrate sexual misconduct. According to The Crime Report, “A 2015 investigation by the Associated Press found that roughly 1,000 officers lost their badges in a six-year period for rape, sodomy and other sexual assault; sex crimes that included possession of child pornography; or sexual misconduct such as propositioning citizens or having consensual but prohibited on-duty intercourse.” There are a number of tactics that sexual predators use to groom their victims.
- Perpetrators will often target children who are vulnerable. They may be economically disadvantaged or isolated from their peers.
- Sexual abuse often begins with the gradual introduction of touch.
- Perpetrators may give their victims items that they desire such as candy, alcohol or illicit drugs.
- Perpetrators may then introduce their victims to pornography to desensitize them to sexual touching.
It is a crime in California to engage in sexual activity with a minor. It does not matter whether the minor offered their “consent.” Our legal system is based on the idea that minors are not able to properly offer their consent for sexual activity. Pursuant to California Penal Code 288, it is a crime for a person to commit any lewd or lascivious act on a child under 16 years of age. This includes touching a child’s body for sexual purposes. The touching does not need to be on bare skin. Pursuant to California Penal Code 287, it is a crime to perform oral copulation with a minor under 18 years of age.
Depending on the facts of any case, an organization such as a police department could face civil liability if their officer engages in the sexual abuse of minors. Police Departments have a legal obligation to protect those entrusted to their care from reasonably foreseeable sources of harm. This includes protecting children from people who could potentially sexually abuse them. Consider, for example, the case of Mary M. v. City of Los Angeles. The plaintiff in that case was sexually assaulted by a police officer who detained her. The court concluded that the police officer’s employer could be held liable for the assault under the doctrine of respondeat superior. There are a number of steps that should be taken after any allegation of sexual abuse by a police officer.
- The allegation should be thoroughly investigated and not dismissed.
- A police report should be created.
- Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
- Medical records indicating that the assault took place should be preserved.
The sexual abuse of a child is no small matter. Children who are sexually abused are more prone to long-term adverse health outcomes such as mental health disorders and suicidal ideations. Any person that is sexually abused by a police officer may have legal recourse through a civil claim. Damages in a civil claim can help cover medical bills, counseling, lost wages and pain and suffering. Sadly, though, police departments will often fight extremely hard to deny liability for the conduct of their officers. A sexual abuse attorney can examine all of the facts of your case free of cost and let you know what your legal options are.
Investigating Sexual Abuse Committed By California Police Officers
We at Carrillo Law Firm extend our best wishes to all of the children and people who have been affected by the alleged actions of L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy Sean Essex. There needs to be a thorough investigation into the conduct of this officer over the years. It is not inconceivable that there could be other victims. It is also deeply concerning that the district attorney’s office failed to prosecute a prior incident from 2006. Had that prosecution taken place other instances of abuse may have been prevented.
Have you or someone that you love been sexually abused by a California police officer? There are a number of laws designed to protect your rights. Our team of compassionate and experienced child sexual abuse attorneys are here to help in any way that we can. We care deeply that victims are aware of their rights and that abusers are held accountable. Whether you just have legal questions or need a free, confidential consultation about your situation we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at 626-799-9375. Se habla español.