Texas Officer Arrested on Charges of Sexual Assault
|By Tracy Idell Hamilton, The San Antonio Express-News
A 14-year veteran of the San Antonio, Texas Police Department was arrested Wednesday on charges of sexually assaulting a woman in her West Side home while he was supposed to be taking a report of a previous assault. Police Officer Fernando Frias, 47, was charged with aggravated sexual assault and official oppression.
Frias was in the Bexar County Jail late Wednesday in lieu of $250,000 bond.
Frias' attorney said the allegations are false.
According to the arrest affidavit, Frias responded to a call just after 3 a.m. Oct. 9 at the woman's home to take a statement about an assault that occurred earlier that day at another location. Because it was only to take a report, police said, the officer responded alone.
The 45-year-old woman told investigators that she was showing Frias bruises from the earlier assault when he made a crude comment about his badge number, No. 1069, and then took her last cigarette, according to the affidavit.
Frias told the woman that if she wanted her last cigarette, it was "going to cost her," the affidavit states.
After the cigarette comment, the affidavit alleges, Frias forced the woman to perform oral sex and then asked where the closest convenience store was. She told him and thought she'd seen the last of him.
Fifteen minutes later, she told police, Frias returned, told her she'd done "an awesome job" and handed her a pack of smokes — keeping two for himself.
Ben M. Sifuentes Jr., Frias' attorney, said the woman has a long history of "false alarm" calls to police.
"We just don't think she's credible," Sifuentes said.
He added that she had offered several versions of the story to investigators and that an early version didn't include the sexual assault accusation.
Detective James Jones of the police sex crimes unit states in the affidavit that he went to a convenience store at Loop 410 and Marbach Road on the woman's directions and reviewed the store's security videotape.
The tape showed Frias walking into the store at 3:58 a.m. and buying a pack of Marlboro 100s, the same cigarettes collected as evidence at the woman's house.
Police also found semen on her bed. Authorities took blood and other samples from Frias for DNA testing.
Jones said he used the department's global positioning satellite system to track Frias' car, and it showed him going to a convenience store and then returning to her home.
Frias was reassigned to administrative duty as soon as the investigation began, Police Chief Albert Ortiz said Wednesday, and the officer will remain off the streets until a grand jury decides whether to indict him.
If indicted, Ortiz said, Frias, who worked out of the department's West Substation on Culebra Road, will be placed on indefinite suspension without pay pending the outcome of a trial.
Aggravated sexual assault is a first-degree felony. Official oppression, defined as undue or illegal influence by a sworn officer, is a Class A misdemeanor.
Ortiz said there was nothing in Frias' work history to suggest he could commit a crime.
Residents in his far Northwest Side neighborhood said Frias is a good neighbor who is very involved with his wife and children.
A neighbor who declined to give his name said Frias told him about the allegations several weeks ago and said Frias had already informed his family that a woman was accusing him of sexual assault.
"I'm very surprised," a neighbor said of the charges. "I would not think he would do such a thing."
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