Federal lawsuit: Woman accuses Paso Robles police officer of rape
–A federal judge in the US District Court’s Central District of California recently set a trial date for the case of a woman suing the City of Paso Robles. The woman, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, alleges that Paso Robles Police Sergeant Christopher McGuire raped her at her home in December 2017 and continued to threaten her.
“This civil rights action seeks compensatory and punitive damages from defendants for violating various rights under the United States Constitution in connection with defendant Christopher McGuire’s ongoing sexual assault, sexual harassment, and intimidation of plaintiff from December 19, 2017 through April of 2018,” the lawsuit says.
“During these acts of sexual assault and sexual harassment, defendant McGuire was acting under color of law as a sergeant with the Paso Robles Police Department. After plaintiff complained about McGuire’s sexual assault of plaintiff to a third-party law enforcement agency, McGuire was placed on paid administrative leave,” the lawsuit says.
“The San Luis Obispo County Sheriffs Office conducted an investigation into McGuire’s sexual assault and sexual harassment of plaintiff. During the investigation, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriffs Office concluded that McGuire had sexually assaulted and harassed plaintiff. The San Luis Obispo County Sheriffs Office also concluded that McGuire had sexually assaulted and sexually harassed other women as well, including as far back as 2015. Rather than terminate McGuire’s employment, the Paso Robles Police Department allowed McGuire to resign,” the lawsuit says.
The alleged incidents first began on Dec. 19, 2017. Sgt. McGuire and other members of the Paso Robles Police Department responded to a domestic violence call from plaintiff. Police forced entry into her home and arrested her boyfriend. McGuire inspected the entire home. After the plaintiff was questioned by officers Jeremy Petlachi and McGuire, all officers were released by McGuire. However, McGuire stayed at the residence for approximately four more hours.
The lawsuit alleges that while at the home, “McGuire grabbed the plaintiff’s hand and placed it on his gun, which he was wearing in a holster on his hip. He then grabbed her left hand and placed it on his erect penis. McGuire then asked the plaintiff which gun she preferred. Plaintiff stated that she preferred the firearm. McGuire also said words to the effect of ‘You like that, don’t you? You like men of power.’ Plaintiff requested that McGuire leave her residence, but he refused.”
A few days later McGuire unexpectedly appeared at plaintiff’s home again on his way to work. “He said he was conducting a welfare check on plaintiff. McGuire said he needed to speak to plaintiff alone in the detached garage. Once inside the garage, McGuire demanded that plaintiff lock the door. Plaintiff complied with Defendant McGuire’s demand and locked the door because she was in fear of her safety. Plaintiff feared that McGuire would either physically harm her or arrest her if she failed to comply with his directives.”
“When plaintiff asked what they needed to discuss, McGuire did not respond. McGuire pulled down his shorts and attempted to physically force plaintiff onto her knees to perform oral sex on him. Plaintiff resisted.” McGuire then physically forced plaintiff to lean over an object, pulled the back of her pants down and raped her, the lawsuit says. “After sexually assaulting plaintiff, McGuire threatened plaintiff with physical harm if she disclosed the sexual assault.”
“Throughout the next few months, McGuire stalked and harassed plaintiff by appearing at places plaintiff was present in the public while he was on duty as a police officer. McGuire stalked plaintiff by constantly driving by plaintiffs house in his official marked police car, wearing his official uniform, while on duty, even after she moved.”
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriffs Office has obtained evidence corroborating McGuire’s sexual assault of the victim including DNA evidence, GPS evidence, and approximately a dozen witnesses corroborating the allegations, the lawsuit says. The GPS on McGuire’s official law enforcement vehicle establish that McGuire’s police vehicle drove past the victim’s home during the late night/early morning hours, without any legitimate reason for doing so, dozens of times, the lawsuit says.
“During the San Luis Obispo County Sheriffs Office’s investigation into McGuire’s sexual assault of plaintiff, it discovered that McGuire had sexually assaulted and sexually harassed 16 several other women, while on duty, under color of authority and abused his power as a law enforcement officer,” the lawsuit says.
McGuire, who first joined the police department in 2012, was placed on paid administrative leave in May 2018. At the time, Paso Robles Police Chief Ty Lewis said, “Regretfully, one of our own has been accused of tarnishing our badge. Sergeant Christopher McGuire was placed on leave on May 9th after allegations surfaced that he may have committed a serious criminal act. I cannot comment on the specifics at this point. I immediately took these allegations to the DA and Sheriff’s Departments, while simultaneously placing him on paid leave.”
McGuire remained an employee of the Paso Robles Police Department until October 1, 2018.
The lawsuit additionally accuses the City of Paso Robles of having “a long history of turning a blind eye to sexual harassment by law enforcement officers. McGuire’s sexual assault and other misconduct towards the plaintiff was allowed to happen because McGuire knew that based on past sexual assaults committed by its law enforcement officers, if he was caught, the worst-case scenario for McGuire was that he would be placed on paid administrative leave and then would be allowed to resign, based on the custom and practice of the City of Paso Robles and the Paso Robles,” the lawsuit says.
“For example, in 2012 the chief of the Paso Robles Police Department was accused of sexually harassing and sexually assaulting members of the police department. After an investigation was conducted that revealed substantial misconduct, the chief of police was allowed to resign,” the lawsuit says.
The City of Paso Robles on Aug. 21, 2020, filed an answer to the lawsuit. The city denies the allegations, saying it lacks sufficient information to admit or deny the of the allegations, and on that basis denies them.
The city’s answer also says, “City asserts that the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office’s investigation report is the best evidence of its contents and findings. City denies that the report discovered McGuire had sexually assaulted several other women, while on duty, under color of authority.”
US District Judge Philip Guitierrez set a trial date of Aug. 17, 2021.
Editor’s note: The Paso Robles Daily News follows Associated Press guidelines in not printing the names of victims of sexual assault.