April 8, 2014

Summary: A former West Sacramento police officer is guilty of sexually assaulting vulnerable women while on duty in government property.  The fallout from this case could cast doubt on the police department’s commitment to serving their community.  The victims in cases like these need a strong advocate who will ensure their lives are taken care of after this miscarriage of trust; this is where Estey & Bomberger enters into the equation.

A former West Sacramento police officer has been found guilty on 18 counts of kidnapping and sexually assaulting women while on patrol, and faces multiple life sentences as a result.  As is always with cases like this, the details into the individual counts are much worse than the charges sound.  Sergio Alvarez specifically targeted drug addicts and prostitutes and forced them into having sex with him inside of his patrol car.  Why would he target those people?  Two reasons, really; first, because he thought the authorities wouldn’t believe their stories…and secondly, because he’s a monster.   To most, a police officer is a special breed of man or woman whose life is dedicated to the service of the public.  Police officers also recognize this special bond they have to the public; here is their ethics creed:

–         On my honor, I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character, or the public trust.  I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions.  I will always uphold the constitution and the community I serve.

How does this creed apply to Alvarez, and the rest of the West Sacramento Police Department?  Alvarez’s honor is clearly out of the question, as the depths of his deceit clearly prove this point.  Not to beat a dead horse, but it took no courage or accountability to rape women while on duty, nor did it uphold the constitution or West Sacramento.  Alvarez’s actions have second and third order effects, to the chagrin of WSPD.  Think about this: what do the citizens of West Sacramento think of its police force after an incident like this?  It can’t be good; this type of behavior doesn’t inspire the confidence of the community they have sworn to uphold.  How will this affect the way that WSPD conducts business after this?  I’m certain the Chief of Police has done a deep dive into their procedures, and will likely train up their policemen to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.  Even so, is this enough to win back public confidence?  On the contrary, does this embolden the citizens to be less courteous with law enforcement?

This is a large part, but not the whole of the problem.  The fallout from this scandal is far from over.  As many as 18 plaintiffs could seek to recover damages against the city and/or the police department, along with this serial rapist.  These abuses were consummated by local government, in a government vehicle, in the line of duty.  Another thing to consider is that 10 counts were deadlocked in the jury.  The charges were even more serious than what Alvarez was convicted for.  They include rape, kidnapping, and forced sex acts.  If those charges were re-tried and stuck onto Alvarez, were looking at an enormous amount of litigation to provide the victims the medical care they will likely require for the rest of their lives.

Often lost in the drama of these cases are the victims.  Who do THEY have looking out for them after they’re proven to be victims of sexual abuse?  While no two situations are the same, it is typical to see drug dealers and prostitutes have little to no relationship with their families.  Worse yet, it’s possible that the victims might have been involved in prostitution before reaching adulthood.  Their friends might or might not be an adequate support group for such a victim, but it’s a craps shoot given the background of the women victimized.  No doubt, these women were highly vulnerable before this incident, and likely mistrusting of the police given their occupations.  Now, this situation just reinforced their fears of the police, and has given the impression to the victims that they can’t turn to the police with full confidence.

Worst case scenario for one of these victims is to know nothing else about life other than being exploited and trusting nobody in the process.  In that worst case scenario, the victim needs medical help, and might need mental health professionals for the rest of their lives.  The emotional scars that accumulate from such burdens last a lifetime.  Those emotional scars have also been proven in clinical studies to have physiological effects for the victims. So, how can the victim seek to afford and obtain the help they need and deserve?

When a victim seeks to recover damages from a sexual abuse, they seek for the best lawyers, for a simple reason – to have the ease of mind knowing their medical expenses are covered for the rest of their lives; when the stakes are that high, it’s no wonder why victims want the best.  So, what resources does a victim have at their disposal to ensure they are taken care of?  Simple, the answer is us – Estey & Bomberger, who have specialized in the practice area of sexual abuse victims for nearly 20 years.

There’s a difference, between most lawyers and us.  We believe that the separation is in the preparation: we separate from our peers by the preparation we put into each case, which at times can be upwards of $500,000 assembling our team before we enter the courtroom.   We also conduct countless focus groups to ensure we are prepared for the courts.  Most law firms have a “churn and turn” mentality to the business, getting people in and out, settling out of court to get a quicker paycheck.  We don’t operate this way.  Our clients are much too important to us to treat them like our next paycheck.  We deal with real people with real problems; our clients were victims first…we never lose sight of that fact.

We owe our success to our preparation.  The rigor we put into our client’s cases is a large reason why we earn massive settlements for our clients.  The expertise of our support staff and our experienced trial lawyers’ forces institutions into two difficult positions: let our cases go to trial where Steve Estey and Mike Bomberger has netted record-setting settlements, or choose to settle out of fear of facing either one of them.  This is what makes them different from the rest, and the best call a victim can ever make.


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