#MeToo Behind Bars LASD

#MeToo Behind Bars: Did the LA Sheriff’s Dept. Have Early Evidence That A Jail Deputy Was Sexually Abusing Women?

Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

As the firing of CBS chief executive Les Moonves in the wake of  another round assault and harassment claims continues to make national headlines, in another part of Los Angeles, a new lawsuit filed recently by two women made similar accusations against a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy named Giancarlo Scotti, alleging he sexually harassed, abused, and assaulted female inmates whom it was his duty to protect in the Century Regional Detention Facility (CRDF) women’s jail located in Lynwood, California.

The lawsuit filed in federal court on Friday, August 31, is the third of its kind, raising the total number of women suing Scotti for sexual misconduct to five, each of the alleged victims former inmates at CRDF, where until September of last year, Scotti was working .

In addition to the three civil lawsuits, in February of this year, Scotti was criminally charged with sexually assaulting six female inmates at the Lynwood facility, with the alleged abuse said to have occurred between March and September of 2017.

It’s not clear if  some of the five women who have filed lawsuits against the deputy are among the female inmates that Scotti is already criminally charged with having assaulted, in that the women referenced in the criminal charges are not named.

Century Region Detention Facility, cells, via The LA County Sheriff’s Department

Yet, however much or little the women in the lawsuits cross over, with the women connected with the criminal case against Scotti, some of the dates referenced in this latest court filing bring up troubling questions that go beyond the accusations of abuse, intimidation, and assault previously raised by the other three women who filed the earlier two lawsuits.

According to the new complaint, one of the two new women was allegedly assaulted on or about November 25, 2016, and a second time, on or about December 2, 2016—dates that greatly expand the time period in which Scotti may have been sexually preying on women.

This woman—whom we’ll call Jane 5—told of first a sexual assault where she was allegedly ordered to disrobe by Deputy Scotti on November 25, 2016. Then a week  later, according to Jane 5, Scotti approached her in the jail’s laundry room and told that he wanted to “fuck,” then allegedly ordered her to follow him into the staff elevator, where he “forcibly grabbed her breast,” then stopped the reported assault and told her to return to her cell.

According to the complaint, it turned out that the staff elevator was under video surveillance, but we’ll get back to that in a minute.

Jane 5 was released from jail on December 9, 2016, and had no more direct contact with Scotti. Shortly after her release, however, according to the complaint, Deputy Scotti contacted Jane 5 on social media with the message, “do you want to fuck.” Jane 5  didn’t respond.

Also, sometime after her release, according to the complaint, a Sergeant Bernal of the LASD contacted Jane 5’s mother and said that he wanted to speak to Jane about the assaults. Jane met with department personnel and told them about what she experienced. According to the complaint, during a meeting with LASD officials they showed her video footage of the alleged assault by Scotti in the staff elevator.


The matter of dates

Right now, the attorneys representing these latest two women don’t know with any certainty on what date Jane 5 first met with LASD personnel, and precisely when it was that they showed her the video of her assault.

Century Region Detention Facility, via The LA County Sheriff’s Department

Those dates would be important.

The dates of alleged abuse and/or assault described by the other four women who have brought lawsuits against Deputy Scotti allegedly occurred in the months of August and September 2017. The incidents relating to the six women whom Scotti has been criminally charged with abusing and/or assaulting are reported to have taken place between March and September 2017.

Yet, the November-December 2016 dates of Jane 5’s alleged abuse took place three months earlier than the first dates referenced in the criminal charges, and at least seven months before the dates of the incidents claimed by the other four women who filed the three lawsuits.

Furthermore, as mentioned above, there was reportedly a video of Jane 5’s alleged Dec. 2 assault, which Jane 5 says she was shown at one of her meetings with LASD investigators.

So when did LASD officials know about the allegations of sexual abuse made by Jane 5 against Scotti?  And when did they see the staff elevator video, presuming the  complaint is correct, and there was staff elevator video showing Jane 5 being assaulted by Deputy Scotti on December 2, 2016.

All five of the women in the three federal lawsuits are represented by attorneys Justin Sterling and Erin Darling.  And all five allege that before the various plaintiffs were”sexually assaulted by Deputy Scotti,” the deputy had sexually assaulted other
female inmates at CRDF and that the County, the LASD and Sheriff Jim McDonnell “were on notice of this conduct.”

The complaints also allege that Scotti had been “put on employment probation by the county” before the sexually assaults alleged in the complaint, but that he was nevertheless still allowed “to work at a women’s jail, permitting him the regular, daily task of supervising women inmates.”

Thus far, we only know for sure that Scotti was put on administrative leave without pay in mid-September of 2017, when he was initially arrested for assaulting two women and charged with two counts of rape and oral copulation under color of authority.

But when did LASD investigators first have evidence of Scotti’s predatory actions? If they talked to Jane 5 sometime between December 2016 when she was released and March 2017 when the first of the assaults for which he was criminally charged allegedly occurred, while was he still working with female inmates until mid-September 2017?


“Institutional failure”

Attorneys Sterling and Darling say they cannot yet comment on the details of the new lawsuit.

But Darling did point to what he called “the tragedy” of Deputy Scotti’s alleged actions, which he said represent “failure on an institutional level” at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department that, in turn, calls for “aggressive litigation.”

Department spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said the LASD would “reserved comment on pending litigation,” but that Deputy Scotti is still on administrative leave without pay.

So we are left with three legal complaints (see below), which make for unsettling reading.  Some of the women’s accounts include allegations of retaliation when they attempted to report the abuse.

In the case of the newest lawsuit, the second woman (let’s call her Jane 4) describes a campaign of sexual abuse by Scotti, and finally the demand to touch her bare breasts through a slot in her cell door, followed by the demand for “oral copulation,” to which she said she fearfully complied. (Jane 4 had reportedly been a victim of sexual assault as a 15-year-old, which increased her fear, according to the complaint.)

When Scotti was arrested a few days after the last alleged assault against her, Jane 4 “came forward” to an employee at the jail. This necessarily brought investigators into her cell for a search, which included the use of a blacklight. Now identified as one of Scotti’s alleged victims, rather than being protected, the lawsuit alleges she was instead left vulnerable to retaliation by certain deputies, and subjected to crass and demeaning sexual remarks of the “Don’t act like you didn’t like it” variety—and worse.


Glacial change

The legal complaints,  of course, contain only allegations, but those allegations are made more believable by the preliminary audit of the Lynwood women’s jail released last spring.  The audit looked at Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) compliance, and found that CRDF,  the largest women’s jail in the nation, failed to meet 41 out of 43 national PREA standards needed to keep women inmates safe from the threat of sexual assault.

The highly critical 138-page audit, completed in January 2018, (and first acquired by the LA Times’ Maya Lau) was requested by the LA County Sheriff’s Department to help the department get up to speed on the PREA requirements.

In part as a consequence of the disastrous scores in the audit, in May of this year, the LA County Board of Supervisors passed a motion to establish PREA Compliance Units within both the LA County Sheriff’s Department and the Probation Department. The motion also included a report-back on the feasibility of having the Office of Inspector General conduct PREA compliance audits of the county’s lockups.

This is all to the good, of course, but from what we hear, despite everyone’s best intentions, thus far progress in getting the PREA Units up and pro-actively running has been discouragingly slow.

This past April, when we were reporting on the failing scores reported by the PREA audit, we talked with Amanda Goad, a senior Staff attorney for the ACLU of Southern California, and an expert on such issues,  At that time, Goad said that both the audit, and the allegations made against  Deputy Scotti, suggest that a much larger PREA problem may exist below the surface in CRDF.

“We know,” Goad said, “both anecdotally from the conversations the ACLU staff have with folks in the jails in the course of our monitoring work, and also from broader studies of these issues, that the vast majority of people who do experience sexual victimization in jails never report it.”

And now we have more accusations, and still little in the way of concrete progress.


Post script: you can read the text of the five women’s three civil complaints for yourself by going here and here and here.

36 Comments

  • Were there instances of outside female civilian workers and LGBTQ employees having inappropriate relationships as well but “brushed under the rug” because it wasn’t “catchy” or within the neat pre-estsbilished politically acceptable boundaries the media supports and pushes, and the public has come to expect?

    Answer: Yes

    • If this is second hand information
      or hearsay, then get in line. If you know this for a fact, you’ll be put on the witness list.

  • Conspiracy; If Celeste actually looked into the full scope of this story to cover LBGTQ and same sex violations, it would force her to look in the mirror and ask herself some very difficult questions. Not gonna happen.

    White Male Cops only please, that’s the agenda. All else need not apply. Doesn’t sell.

  • I have to agree with Conspiracy and Ownership on this. I’m sure there are probably some homosexual officers sexually assaulting male inmates, and similarly for female Sheriff deputies possibly sexually assaulting female inmates. Little cadets, women, men, no one seems save around some officers. I recently heard that not even neighbors of officers are safe.

  • As usual some far out bizzaro comments. Recall when then Chief McDonnell was in charge of the jail scandal investigation and asked crooked Baca about accountability? Baca made his infamous statement as to not vote for him. Well, Sheriff McDonnell how do we hold you accountable? Don’t worry we are not voting for you either.

    C: Shouldn’t another commission be formed? Isn’t female sexual inmate assault far more serious than a gangster getting a beating? This is serious why isn’t there a call for an investigation into what Sheriff McDonnell knew and when did he know it?

  • Interesting; 2 examples.

    Black Baltimore cop caught beating the shit out of another black guy. Black partner half assly tried to separate the two. Black “suspect” went to jail. Video comes out and black cop resigns. Don’t know more than that because the media covered it for about 8 hours. If that was a white cop with a white partner, STAND THE FUCK BY to STAND THE FUCK BY. 24/7 news coverage and 27/7 rioting.

    #2. Black LASD Deputy running protection for some gangsters. Dope and gun runs to Vegas. What’s his name? When’s his next court date? Was he sentenced already?

    If he was white, STAND THE FUCK BY to STAND THE FUCK BY. You would know every Fucking thing about Whitey right down to his home address. Celeste would shove that case down our throats right down to what courtroom was hearing the case. Ya, she covered it initially, but when she realized black doesn’t keep the money train moving, she lost interest.

    Dirty White Cops Only, all others need not apply.

  • So in between your obvious rage and anger over the appearance of selective journalism, I’m also seeing that you threw in the “Race Card” without actually saying it. I agree that the lucrative money trail is based upon the backs of Blacks from slavery to the almost defunct cash Bail Bond Business. When it comes to dirty cops, the majority ARE white cops who go bad, not to say that “Cops of Color” are not without faults.

    • Joe Black:

      “When it comes to dirty cops, the majority ARE white cops who go bad, not to say that ‘Cops of Color’ are not without faults.”

      1968 LASD, when most Deputies were white:

      http://www.whenlawmenlie.com

      Note that the room-mate & locker-mate in the link went into the DEA & led the Donald P. Scott raid; full particulars on THAT can be Googled: Donald P. Scott

      The culture that tolerates this sort of thing is the problem, and that is the problem the new Sheriff is is currently dealing with.

      • Cognistator, your comment that Sheriff Jim McDonnell is dealing with a culture of corruption I believe is a little far-fetched.

        Per your recommendation, I saw the video where the widow of Donald P. Scott speaks. Video link attached below. Interestingly enough, the leader of the crew is no other than Larry Waldie, go figure. The district attorney from Ventura county states that deputy Spencer executing the search warrant might have been a good deputy, very aggressive, but somehow lost his moral compass. They executed Donald P. Scott by illegally manufacturing a search warrant, under false pretenses. The top brass knew it but allowed it to go forward.

        You work and worked for the sheriff’s department, you know that to get a judge to sign a fake, manufactured search warrant is a walk in the park. If you ever walked into a courthouse, requesting a judge to sign a search warrant, you know that most of the time they did not bother to read it, they would just sign it.

        Now the Donald P. Scott case happened in 1992, almost 26 years ago, and the same situation is still happening. Under the leadership of Jim McDonnell, his people do a lot of crooked stuff, especially against his own deputies. And just like the DEA officer told Deputy Spencer not to use his name, as he did not feel comfortable with what they were about to do, Jim McDonnell does the same. In many of his crooked investigations, actions, or inactions, he asks the people doing his dirty work, not to use his name, and when his signature is required, the delegates to others to sign for him. If all goes well is all good, but if things go wrong, he can use the art of “plausible deniability”.

        So, Jim McDonnell condones and looks the other way, just like all other politicians, who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. He pretends he is tackling corruption by manufacturing cases, just like deputy Spencer did in 1992.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udFZLY9VhYc

        • JC

          Thanks for the “YouTube” link.

          Robert E. Shaffer is the protagonist–the LASD Deputy who went to State Prison–in the link I provided.

          His roommate Charles Stowell is much mentioned in the link you provided.

          While at Firestone Station in 1968 both Deputies shot & killed in the space of one year something like six burglars “in fear for their lives,” but only Shaffer went to State Prison.

          Stowell ended up in the DEA & led the Donald P. Scott raid.

          Most of the DEA raiding party in the Donald P. Scott was composed of LASD Deputies.

          • Cognistator, I have read the Robert E. Shaffer memo/book, it is very interesting. As I read it, I remember vivid situations in those alleys, streets, while I trained and worked the unincorporated South Central Los Angeles County, now reporting districts, (RD), 2170-2179, which includes Florence, Firestone Park, and Walnut Park, areas.

            Shaffer, in my opinion, was the victim of a culture in which some deputies are made believe that if you want to be admired and respected by your peers you have to take criminals to jail, and if you have to use deadly force to accomplish it so be it. They are made to believe, is the only way, to be considered for that elite assignment, such as Field Training Officer, Major Crimes detail, Narco, SEB, etc.

            So yes, some young impressionable good persons become deputies who lose their moral compass, when they are told to arrest people, if you have to use force, do it, “we got your back.”

            Right now as I write this message, there is a deputy in the watch commander’s office, or the operations lieutenant’s office at any station, being scolded, counseled, or warned he has not taken anybody to jail in a while. That deputy might not be taken anybody to jail, not because, he cannot look for criminal activity, it is because he knows that under the current regime, “shaking the trees” for criminal activity, comes with great liability. He may run into a situation lasting a few seconds that will cost him his career and livelihood.

            That deputy being counseled as to why he is not taking people to jail is very smart, he knows that to become a sergeant, or above he needs to just do that, not take people to jail. Because in trying to take a criminal into custody, things may go wrong and will lose his job, for a few seconds actions, the current regime will have years to sit in their office and second-guess.

            There is another type of deputy, the hard charger, the one who wants the respect and admiration from his peers, the one who has the aspiration to become a training officer, the SEB guy, etc, I would call this guy, the ones who mean well but may be more prone to become Schaffer, the ones at risk of being the victims of the corrupt culture in the sheriff’s department. Just like Peter Pitchess pressed for Shaffer prosecution, and ultimately his conviction, for political reasons Jim McDonnell does exactly the same. Just like the homicide deputies, pressed Shaffer to confess in violation of his Miranda rights, which at the time were a new thing, the current regime running the sheriff’s department does. Just as the witnesses were manipulated, coerced, intimidated to turn on Shaffer, the current regime does the same.

            What I found interesting is that years later, when the Los Angeles County counsel defended the county and Shaffer in the civil case arising out of the Shaffer’s shooting, the County Counsel told Shaffer, he had been screwed by the sheriff’s department, as well as the District Attorney’s office.

            The Shaffer case happened almost 50 years ago, yet, things are exactly the same, I don’t see much change as to how the sheriff’s department operates, they just drive modern cars, with computers, and radio, but the culture and the way of doing things continues, especially at the top.

            Robert Shaffer did not join the Sheriff’s department knowing how to do things the way he did, he was thought by others above him, with the blessings of the upper brass. Just as today, the upper brass does corrupted actions, which trickle down to the lower ranks, respectively. Things are done in a certain way, and all is good until it is not, then they scapegoat a deputy, usually at the lower ranks.

            I feel sorry for Shaffer, he was thought and made believe a certain way, and later, he was fed into the wolves, his partners turned on him, as it always happens when people are trying to save their careers. Pretty sad.

        • JC: Regardless of the allegations about McDonnell, PPOA has endorsed him. The ongoing saga of division within LASD is embarrassing and unproductive. If Villanueva wins he will not be ALADS puppet. To be perfectly honest with you, other law enforcement agencies just shake their heads looking at a discombobulated crumbled agency.

          • Still 10-8, yes, it is pretty sad that people who know first hand, about the state of the department, decide to support more of the same…

            In the discussion, the endorsement committee also considered the following results of membership balloting:

            Total ballots mailed: 7,389
            Endorse JIM McDONNELL: 394
            Endorse ALEX VILLANUEVA: 365
            No endorsement: 115

    • On the contrary, either you’re deaf and blind residing on another planet.

      No so much reported but usually caught in the act, thanks to cameras, body cams and dash cams. It is what it is.

  • Joe: For us folks from another planet….what empirical data do you have to support your allegations. A lot of people sound off on this site…but fail the credibility test…..right CF

  • UM, it depends. Beating someone into a coma is probably worse than grabbing someone’s ass. And, sodomizing an inmate is probably worse than kicking him or her in the ass. So, it depends. I do not care whether its one or many commissions, I want dirty cops in jail, collecting unemployment or being greeters at Walmart.

    Ownership, yes, Trump, white boys are the victims. Please! And, who is giving up cops’ home addresses? We can not even get the names of those the DA cannot trust to testify because they pull shit out of their ass, let alone get their addresses. And, your Trumpian whining that Celeste and the media only pick on dirty White cops and not dirty Black cops does not get very far. I’m sure you still arrested arrested the kid selling $5 rocks regardless of what happened to the guy bringing in the kilos. I never heard you say the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine was disproportionately affecting blacks over whites. In fact, your motto was lock them all up. Same with me, get rid of all the dirty cops. At least make them lose weight. Have you seen how portly some of them are. Again, care to share your height and weight.

    Bandwagon, facts? You and your ilk are allergic to facts. I did not see you ask Standard Business for facts and figures when he said the majority of bad cops are not white.

    • Saw a black woman on you tube who thought policing in America was inherently racist, a hold over from slavery , you know, the usual stuff cf spews and what they teach in pan African gender studies these days. At any rate, her solution was to disband police forces and replace them with
      “community “ watches or some such thing. I found her opinion refreshing, at least she was thinking of a solution to a problem she believes exists. Of course I don’t agree with that opinion but she seemed to honestly believe it to be true.

      Notice the cf’s of the world, they never offer a solution to policing as it exists today. They rail on and on about evil cops, but they never offer an alternative. If you really believed half the things the cf crowd says about policing wouldn’t your first step be to disband such an evil organization? No, all they advocate for is some petty revenge against some cops here and there, throw them in jail! Make em’ grovel at menial labor! The hunt for the great white cop defendant. Its the politics of revenge, that of course wouldn’t change anything.

  • Joe:. Thanks. I will read it as soon as I get a moment. Good to have someone with data to support their point of view. CF you could learn a thing or two from Joe..

    • Easy homework assignment, Look at the stats statewide and research the percentage of “Cops of Color” as compared to “White Cops” on the location chart. Very few municipalities of Law Enforcement have minorities as the majority in Departments nationwide even though the gap is getting smaller in bigger departments, LAPD & NYPD.

      • Hey blackie, you’re assuming cops are comiting crimes in a percentage directly proportional to the racial break down of the department. It doesn’t work that way in society (black crime is wildly out of proportion to their percentage in society) why should police departments be any different?

  • Joe:. I don’t believe the web site indicates the race of the officers according to Professor Stinson from Bowling Green University who developed the web site. Correct me if I’m wrong. Trying to determine how you came to ur conclusion about “white cops”. By the way Joe current stats show between 750,000-850,000 sworn police officers. The study showed approx 6500 officers arrested for various crimes during a seven year time period. Pretty small percentage Joe.

  • Joe:. I stand corrected. The Henry A Wallace web site shows the current number of sworn police officers in the U.S. as 1,100,000. The study showed 6596 police officers were arrested for various crimes in a seven year period. That is approx .07% of the total number of police officers annually. Fyi

  • Facts CF, another gunnned down cop today that you won’t hear about here on a site that has every reason to report on them but the cop hater who runs it refuses to.
    Who murdered him? Why were the cops tailing this particular group of reprobates? Like where I live, what does every single burglary crew have in common?
    What is Celeste scared to death to write about because it shows the truth about what’s happening in our country and she’ll have none of that.

    • Sure Fire

      “…Another gunned down cop today that you won’t hear about today….”

      In the ’70s & ’80s I was an active skydiver & saw a lot of jumpers go SPLAT!!!; I personally used my reserve parachute four times out of 337 jumps.

      What is needed is a central registry of cops who meet a fatal demise, like the one maintained by the United States Parachute Association (USPA) for jumpers who go SPLAT!!!:

      https://uspa.org/Safety-Training/Accident-Reports

      Celeste has always heralded an officer who has gone down, that she knows about; what she doesn’t know about, then a central registry like the one USPA has is definitely needed.

      • @ Cognistator, you have a very valid point. No one should be castigated for what they don’t know. Obviously some ill feelings from “Surefire” which is telling, but none of my business. I’m usually teased by my son for not being a combat veteran, because I enlisted shortly after the Vietnam war ended. No war stories without a war.

  • Celeste – can you help me? Your article appears to me to be about women who were raped but the comments here seem to be other focused. Can you let me in on what I am missing?

  • Editor’s Note:

    Two issues: As Cognistator kindly noted, at WLA we have a policy of writing about any law enforcement officer in LA County who is killed in the line of duty. Often, we extend that coverage to Southern California. The death of an officer tears a hole in the emotions and psyche of a community like no other, and we believe it is essential to acknowledge those terrible losses.

    While we rarely write about the loss of officers in other areas of the nation, we do our best to tweet about them. I miss some, but if someone flags a tragedy I’ve missed, since I’m the most frequent tweeter, I will always do what I can to catch up. It’s important.

    Such was the case with Forth Worth undercover police officer Garrett Hull who was shot Friday morning when he was chasing a suspect who robbed a Fort Worth bar early on Friday. Officer Hull died at the hospital late Friday night. He left behind a wife and two daughters. He was described as the “rock,” who held his unit together. A look at his face in the photo that has been circulated of him, strongly suggests the truth of that statement. He also looks like a good dad.

    Nevertheless, I’d not seen the news of Officer Hull’s death until Sure Fire posted an enraged screed about WLA and me not writing about an officer who had died. Thus I was quickly able to find the news, and did a short tweet.

    (I’m in West Glacier, MT, at the moment, theoretically on a short vacation, thus not always in front of my laptop.)

    I would have preferred to be informed without all the “cop hater” rhetoric. But, okay. Information is nevertheless helpful.

    Sure Fire, however, did not stop there. Saturday night, he launched into a much angrier, much more hate-filled post that brought in references to my family.

    I deleted that post yesterday.

    Although it’s none of anyone’s business, for those who happened to read the now deleted post, here’s the deal:

    Among my closest family members, there are two members of law enforcement. The rest of us are wildly proud of both of them. One is my cousin, who, when I grew up, was my second brother. He is a retired member of a sheriff’s department in another state, where he is beloved and respected. He’s incredibly bright, funny, kind, and was a fearless cop. Now he teaches criminal justice at a college in that state, helping to grow new, smart law enforcement officers.

    One of his three sons, a former woodland firefighter, was sworn in as a police officer two summers ago, a job that he believes is his truest calling. He also wanted to honor his dad, and his older brother, by following in their footsteps.

    My cousin’s oldest son was also an intelligent, gutsy, kind, courageous police officer who loved serving his community and, at 27, particularly enjoyed the challenge of working the street crimes unit. Yet, he had a reputation for treating even those he arrested with respect. Thus, he was well-regarded on the force and on the street, both. He was the kind of cop who made a point of knowing community members’ names.

    He was shot and killed in the line of duty seven years ago.

    As a long time commenter, Sure Fire, it seems, remembered I’d lost a family member who was a police officer. (I was more self-disclosing in the site’s earlier years.)

    Saturday he chose to weaponize that piece of knowledge.

    In so doing, Sure Fire and his hatred have succeeded in officially pushing me too far.

    I realize that’s likely far more information than you need. But there you have it.

    C.

  • Weird that “Surefire” is still cyberstalking Celeste after all these years. Pretty creepy if you ask me.

    His infamous notoriety precedes him, so what does this guy want? Kudos to you Celeste for your tolerance as a journalist to let him ramble on throughout what seems to be an eternity. Where I come from we had a name for guys like him, “a winner” who gets the booby prize

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