The City Council unanimously approved a $450,000 settlement last week, for a woman who said she was sexually assaulted by a Los Angeles police officer in the back of his car while his partner acted as a lookout.
The woman — identified in the lawsuit as Jane Doe No. 2 — is among at least four women who have accused the two officers of assaulting them. Two of the women have previously received settlements of $750,000 and $575,000.
The two officers, Luis Valenzuela and James C. Nichols, were charged in 2016 with raping and sexually assaulting several women while on duty. Both men have pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges. If convicted, they could each be sentenced to up to life in prison.
County prosecutors allege that the two officers worked together to prey on women from 2008 to 2011. The officers allegedly abused some in the back seat of their unmarked police car and threatened their victims with arrest if they did not do as they said.
According to Jane Doe No. 2’s lawsuit, in December 2008, Nichols exposed himself to her, “grabbed her hand, and forced her to perform an unwanted sexual act on him in the back of his LAPD vehicle” while Valenzuela sat in the front seat and encouraged the assault.
The lawsuit also said the victim was “terrified” of the officers because they worked her neighborhood, warned her to “keep quiet” and that she believed they would retaliate against her if she went public with the alleged assault.
The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office did not respond to a request to comment on the settlement.