From 2008 to 2011, four women who were investigated on drug related cases say they were raped by LAPD officers James Nichols, 46 and his partner Luis Valenzuela, 45. The veteran cops appeared before a judge in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom with their arms in handcuffs wearing orange jumpsuits as they received their 25 year prison sentence.
Both men entered a no contest plea, to which Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Coen reminded them their petition didn’t change the crimes committed.
“You understand pleading no contest is the same as pleading guilty,” Coen said. “The only difference is it makes you feel better.”
According to CBS News, the women were between the ages of 19 and 34, one of whom acted as an informant for the despicable duo. All the women accused Nichols and Valenzuela of forcing them to perform sex acts to avoid jail, stating they were attacked in alleys, their apartments and the officers patrol car.
Over the course of 18 months, one of the victims says she was assaulted four times, twice by Nichols, once by Valenzuela and once by both of them at the same time. One woman even accused Valenzuela of assaulting her with his firearm. After the plea deal was accepted a deputy district attorney called the crimes “particularly heinous” due to the way the disgraced cops illegally wielded their authority.
“Prior to being a judge, over 33 years ago, I was in law enforcement as a member of the DA’s office and head of organized crime,” said Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Coen to the former cops while in court, reports CBS Los Angeles. “This hurts.”
Nichols and Valenzuela were arrested in February 2016 and have remained behind bars since then. The two were placed on unpaid leave from the LAPD in 2013 and relieved of their duty shortly after that.