After a day and a half of deliberations, a jury found a veteran Los Angeles police officer guilty Thursday of raping a woman while he was off duty in 2015.
Jurors convicted Officer William Rodriguez, 38, in connection with an Aug. 16, 2015, incident in which he drove the victim to an unspecified location and raped her.
He was acquitted of a second forcible rape charge stemming from an alleged attack on a female acquaintance at his home in November 2018 and another charge of rape of an intoxicated woman. Jurors also found him not guilty of a special allegation of rape of multiple victims. He faces up to eight years in prison at sentencing.
Rodriguez was arrested in 2019 by the department’s elite Robbery Homicide Division in connection with two rapes. At the time of his arrest, Rodriguez was a 10-year department veteran serving as an officer in the Valley Traffic Division.
The investigation into Rodriguez began after a woman who knew him reported she had been sexually assaulted in November 2018.
LAPD detectives investigating the 2018 alleged assault entered Rodriguez’s DNA into the state’s DNA database, resulting in a “cold hit” notification involving an unsolved sexual assault from August 2015.
Rodriguez was convicted Thursday of that 2015 assault but not the alleged 2018 attack.
“Today, justice has been served for one of the victims of a heinous crime committed by a police officer who was entrusted with protecting and serving our community,” Dist. Atty. George Gascón said after the verdict in a statement.
“While we are disappointed that the defendant was not found guilty on the count of rape on a second victim, we want to commend the bravery of both victims who came forward to report these crimes,” added Gascón, the former assistant chief of the LAPD. “We understand that coming forward and testifying in court is not easy, and we appreciate their courage in doing so.”
Rodriguez’s attorney said he spoke with several jurors after the verdict was read and heard that the question of consent was “paramount” in their analysis.
”There’s no question in my mind that the #MeToo movement in reference to consent has permeated the jury pool and they take consent, when it’s given or not given, very seriously,” said Rodriguez’s attorney, James Blatt.
He added that Rodriguez, a Marine Corps veteran, plans to appeal the decision. Rodriguez could face three to eight years of prison time for the charge he was convicted of, Blatt said.
“We’re entering an era right now where men have to be extremely cautious that whenever there’s an issue concerning consent the sexual activity must stop,” Blatt said. “I consider this a very unfortunate situation. I believe in my client’s innocence.”
After Rodriguez’s arrest in 2019, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said, “When one of our own breaks the trust of the people we are sworn to protect and serve, it tarnishes the badge we all wear proudly on our chests. This arrest reflects our commitment to pursue every lead no matter where the investigation takes us.”
Moore relieved Rodriguez of his duties, but he was not fired.
After the verdict, Rodriguez was remanded into custody pending sentencing.