- Associated Press - Monday, October 27, 2014

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) - A former San Bernardino policeman was sentenced Monday to 25 years in federal prison for forcing prostitutes to perform sex acts while he was on duty.

Jose Jesus Perez, 47, of Menifee was convicted in May in federal court in Riverside of civil rights violations that included kidnapping, sexual abuse and bodily injury.

One prostitute testified that Perez forced her to perform oral sex in his cruiser and a second woman said he had sex with her in a vacant lot next to his patrol car. He also had sex with the second woman in a motel room while not on duty.

Defense lawyer John Aquilina said Perez thought the women had consented because they hadn’t refused the officer’s sexual requests. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Stout said Perez had demanded sex and the women complied because they feared him and thought he would arrest them.

“It is difficult to imagine a more serious breach of the public’s trust and of the victims’ rights than what defendant did,” Stout wrote in court papers requesting a 32-year sentence. “He was, in essence, a sexual predator with a badge.”

Aquilina asked for a five-year sentence, saying Perez was a role model to his family, friends and community and had received numerous commendations for his work.

“However there was another side of him which caused his sexual desires to jeopardize or contradict every other part of his character,” Aquilina said after the sentencing. “He led a dual life.”

Perez apologized to his family and victims during the emotional sentencing hearing.

Perez, who served as a police officer for 14 years in Los Angeles and San Bernardino, was fired in 2012 after the allegations arose.

He has been in custody since his arrest last year in Texas, where he was training to become a telephone line repairman.

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