WOODLAND — A former West Sacramento police officer faces spending the rest of his life in prison following his conviction Thursday on 18 felony charges related to his on-the-job kidnapping and sexual assault of five women — citizens who prosecutors say he was sworn to protect.
Sergio Alvarez, 38, sat with his hands folded but showed no visible reaction as Yolo Superior Court Judge Tim Fall read the multiple guilty verdicts, which came on the jury’s ninth day of deliberations and a day after the panel announced it was hopelessly deadlocked on nine other counts.
“We had people who couldn’t logically look at the evidence, frankly,” a frustrated John Oberholtzer of Davis, one of the jurors, told reporters following the 11 a.m. reading of the verdict. “Sergio sought these women out because he knew they would not be listened to. Ironically, in the jury room they were not listened to by a small minority of jurors.
“Fortunately, at least each one of the women got partial justice, and for this I am glad,” Oberholtzer said.
Alvarez is scheduled to be sentenced on April 4, at which time he could receive “multiple life sentences,” Supervising Deputy District Attorney Garrett Hamilton, who prosecuted the case, said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.
District Attorney Jeff Reisig praised the local, state and federal law-enforcement agencies that worked on the “long and complex” case, as well as the jury “for doing a very difficult but thorough job in holding this man accountable for his horrific crimes.”
Asked whether his office would retry Alvarez on the deadlocked counts, Hamilton said that option would be considered, but “it’s definitely premature to be making calls like that.”
At trial, Hamilton portrayed Alvarez as a rogue cop who preyed upon some of the most vulnerable members of society when he detained his five victims — described as prostitutes, drug addicts and alcoholics — and threatened them with arrest and jail time unless they agreed to engage in sex acts with him.
The married father of three children faced 27 felony counts in all, including rape and oral copulation by duress and by use of authority, as well as aggravated kidnapping for moving his victims to remote locations in order to sexually assault them. All five of the women testified during the trial.
In addition to the guilty verdicts, the jury found true several enhancements alleging that Alvarez’s crimes involved multiple victims and were committed during the course of a residential burglary, meaning he entered a dwelling with the intent to commit a felony.
Testifying in his own defense, Alvarez admitted to having sexual relationships with three of the women, which he described as consensual, but denied having any contact with the other two. Defense attorney J. Toney painted the women as liars and schemers, suggesting they conspired with one another in order to benefit from a civil lawsuit that is pending against the former officer.
Toney declined to comment on the verdicts.
The jury received the case on the afternoon of Feb. 14, deliberating over the course of eight days — during which they requested readbacks of testimony from nearly every witness in the case — before word of a verdict came out Wednesday afternoon. In court, however, jurors indicated they had reached unanimous decisions on some charges but had deadlocked on nine others, resulting in the mistrial on those counts.
Fall also noted technical mistakes on two of the verdict forms, prompting him to issue further instructions on Thursday morning before sending the jury back out to complete the paperwork. The panel returned about 15 minutes later with its guilty verdicts.
“I hope that our verdict reaffirms the worth and the dignity of each of the courageous women who came forward and spoke, as well as the victims who were too afraid,” said juror Linda Bond, also of Davis. “They deserve the respect and gratitude of our entire community.”
West Sacramento Police Chief Tom McDonald said at Thursday’s news conference that his agency has undergone an extensive review of its policies and procedures in the wake of Alvarez’s arrest to guard against future incidents of officer misconduct.
— Reach Lauren Keene at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene