A former San Bernardino police officer was arrested Thursday on charges that he forced two prostitutes to have sex with him while he was on duty, according to court documents.
Jose Jesus Perez, 46, was indicted on four civil rights offenses that involved aggravated sexual abuse "while acting under the color of law," court records show. The alleged offenses occurred over the course of several months in 2011, authorities say.
“The charges in this case describe disgraceful abuses of police authority that simply cannot be tolerated in our society,” U.S. Atty. André Birotte Jr. said in a prepared statement. "We are committed to ensuring that the public is lawfully served by its peace officers.”
Perez, who was arrested in Denton, Texas, was fired from the department last year following the misconduct allegations, authorities say.
The two prostitutes, whose identities were not released, told investigators that they "engaged in the sex acts demanded by Perez only because they feared for their well-being because he was a police officer," according to a press release from the U.S. attorney's office.
According to the indictment, Perez, while in uniform and carrying his firearm, groped one woman and forced her to perform oral sex on him on April 25, 2011.
Perez allegedly assaulted another woman on three occasions in August and September 2011. The woman, prosecutors alleged in court documents, "feared that if she refused Perez’s sexual advances he could and would make her life difficult."
If convicted, Perez faces a maximum sentence of life in federal prison, according to Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles.
Perez, who worked as a Los Angeles Police Department officer prior to joining the force in San Bernardino, had informally trained other officers on how to interact with prostitutes, according to an FBI agent's affidavit.