Last Tuesday, October 29, The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to authorize a $325,000 payout for another victim of former LA County Sheriff’s Deputy Giancarlo Scotti.
The victim, Pauline Smith, was one of the six women, ranging in age from 24 to 42 years old, whom Scotti was charged with sexually assaulting when each of the six was confined to the county’s primary women’s jail, Century Regional Detention Center, located in Lynwood, California.
At the end of September 2019, Scotti received what critics saw as a sh0ckingly low two-year prison sentence after his attorney, Anthony Falangetti, negotiated a plea deal in which the now-fired deputy pleaded no contest to engaging in unlawful sexual activity with the six different women, while continuing to insist that any sexual interaction between Scotti and the various women had been “consensual.”
Nevermind that, the majority of states, including California, have criminal statutes stating that inmates are not capable of consenting to sexual contact with detention facility employees, due to the obvious power differential. In other words, the guards have all the control in a locked facility.
Furthermore, apart from the criminal charges, at least eight, or possibly nine women, have filed federal civil rights lawsuits against the county alleging sexual assaults by the former deputy.
Most of these lawsuits feature discomfortingly detailed allegations of predatory and highly assaultive sexual behavior by Mr. Scotti, including at least one alleged rape.
Smith’s account and was also among the six included by the LA District Attorney’s office in the criminal case.
Pauline Smith’s case
According to her legal complaint, Pauline Smith was sexually victimized by Giancarlo Scotti in the following way.
Smith wound up in CRDF on February 3, 2017, due to a driving-under-the-influence conviction.
(As WitnessLA has noted in other reporting, the five most common charges women that bring women into an LA County jail are drug possession, driving on a suspended license, petty theft, failure to appear in court and driving under the influence.)
In the sequence of events described in Smith’s complaint, in the module to which she was assigned, she was under direct supervision by then-Deputy Scotti. Yet, he did not give her any real trouble until August of 2017, when Smith was already eight months into her sentence.
The problems began, according to the lawsuit, when Smith was in the jail’s outdoor recreation area, specifically in a spot that was “dark and had minimal lighting.” During her time outside, Scotti approached her asked to see her breasts. According to Smith, she froze at the bizarre request and simply didn’t reply, causing Scotti to repeat the instruction.
“I said, show me your tits!” he said. Scotti allegedly threatened to make life hard for Smith if she didn’t do as he said, or words to that effect.
Spooked, Smith said she eventually complied, at which point Scotti began groping her breasts, according to the complaint.
A few days later, Deputy Scotti reportedly escalated his sexual advances, approaching Smith and telling her to stroke his penis for “sexual arousal,” and when she didn’t respond, he allegedly grabbed her hand to get things started.
When Smith resisted, according to her complaint, Scotti threatened to “remove her from the school module” if she did not comply with his sexual demands. So, again, she finally did as the deputy asked her to do.
Sometime during September 2017, some of the department’s internal affairs investigators reportedly approached Smith, and interviewed her about “the sexual abuse and exploitation that took place by Deputy Scotti.”
After answering the investigators’ questions, Smith became fearful that other sheriff’s department employees and Deputy Scotti himself would retaliate against her.
Despite her fears, Smith details no actual retaliation in her complaint, yet some of Scotti’s other victims describe being subjected to very punitive forms of retaliation, once they either complained or were interviewed by members of the LASD’s Internal affairs Bureau.
A growing pile of Scotti payouts
The new $325,000 settlement with Pauline Smith is one of several settlements the county has made thus far with women whom Scotti allegedly assaulted, with all of the other settlements featuring far higher dollar amounts.
In February of 2019, for example, the Board of Supervisors settled with another Scotti victim who reported being sexually assaulted during her time at CRDF. In this case, the board settled for $950,000.
And, in early November of last year, the board agreed to pay a total of $3.9 million to settle the civil rights lawsuits brought by three different women who described sexual assaults by Mr. Scotti.
Two of those women who, between them, received $2.25 million of the $3.9 million settlement, described how Scotti had separately forced each of them to have oral sex with him and, in a separate incident, raped one of the two women in the jail’s shower area.
One of the women in the settlement was pregnant during the time she was assaulted by Scotti. According to her complaint, she was interviewed by two internal affairs officers sometime after Scotti’s multiple assaults. But after the IA officers spoke with her, she reported was later retaliated against by other non-internal affairs deputies, who curtailed her needed counseling and drug treatment sessions, and removed her from the diet reserved for pregnant women that she had previously received. Additionally, she was moved, allegedly without justification, to a high-security unit, where she would routinely be “inappropriately shackled and restrained in chains” during transport to her court hearings, despite the fact she was pregnant.
Pauline Smith’s recent settlement, brings the total Scotti payouts to $5,175,000 — with more potentially high-ticket lawsuits still making their way through the Scotti-assault pipeline — all of which seems at odds with the perplexing perspective put forth by the DA’s office that prosecutors were not sure they could prove that Scotti’s sexual interactions with his locked-up victims were “under duress.”
The top photo is a shot from Giancarlo Scotti’s YouTube