MODESTO, CA - A former Modesto police officer accused of sexually assaulting a woman walked out of court a free man on Friday after accepting a plea deal.
Lee Freddie Gaines II was arrested in March 2012 after a woman accused of him of handcuffing her and forcible oral copulation, Modesto police said.
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The investigation into Gaines began on Jan. 8, 2012 after the department received a report of the alleged crime. The victim said the alleged crimes were committed while Gaines, a uniformed officer, was on the job. Police said Gaines was placed on administrative leave after the report was filed and then terminated in February 2012.
While Gaines was charged with oral copulation by force, being armed with a firearm while committing a sexual offense, sexual battery and assault under color of authority, he instead pled "no contest" to soliciting a prostitute and petty theft, which are both misdemeanors.
In court, Gaines' attorney and the district attorney agreed on the plea deal. Deputy District Attorney Davis Harris cited California penal code 1192.7 as his reason for not pursuing the original charges. PC 1192.7 Section 3 says:
If the indictment or information charges the defendant with a violent sex crime . . . , plea bargaining is prohibited unless there is insufficient evidence to prove the people's case, or testimony of a material witness cannot be obtained, or a reduction or dismissal would not result in a substantial change in sentence.
MORE: California PC 1192.7
The alleged victim Sheri Newton, a self-proclaimed escort, said Gaines hired her the night of Jan. 5, 2012; however, when he showed up at her hotel room, she did not consent to sex.
"He had me handcuffed and I couldn't fight back, and now they're telling me he's getting away with this," Newton said.
Newton tearfully addressed the court Friday saying if the court accepted the plea bargain, she will no longer be considered a victim in the eyes of the law, but that's what she considers herself. She said the attack has left her deeply traumatized.
"I very rarely sleep at nighttime. I will have a lifetime now, what part of my life I have left, I will have mental problems because of what he did to me," Newton said.
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Gaines is no longer on the Modesto police force and will now be on probation and pay a small fine. He released the following statement Friday afternoon after his court appearance:
To my family, friends and the citizens of Modesto,
On March 27th, 2007 I became a police officer for the City of Modesto. On that day, I took an oath to uphold and observe ALL LAWS, and live a life unsullied, as the Peace officer code of ethics puts it. On Jan 12th 2012, I was removed from my police officer duties because I failed. I swore to keep the high standards of ethics, morality and responsibility, but instead I was selfish, arrogant and corrupt. I was willing to commit the crimes I am guilty of today because I didn't care about the things that truly matter.
I am sincerely sorry for the actions that I took. My actions caused pain for others too numerous to count. I hurt my family, friends, co-workers, the citizens of this city and the person I said "I loved the most"- my wife. I cannot give any excuse for my actions because there is none.
To the citizens of Modesto-This is the first time I have been able to express regret and sorrow for the actions I took that affected every one of you. I should have been looking out for your best interests and I wasn't. I used some of my time on duty for personal gain and I regret that as much as anyone can. Please accept my sincere apology.
To my family and friends- What I did caused tremendous pain for many of you. I am so sorry I put all of you through this. None of you knew of the things I did then, but your love and support remained. You knew me well enough to know the truth and that I was not capable of doing the things I was previously accused of, but the crimes I am guilty of today are exactly the actions I did take. I thank all of you for your love and support through this. I could never fully repay you for that.
To my wife- you are literally the person who lost the most because of this. You were shocked to discover who your husband was and what I had done to you. But what did you do in return? You gave me love, forgiveness and support. You showed me the Love of Christ like no other person could have. It took me 27 years of life to decide to live a life led by Jesus, and your life has been my example of what that looks like. I have so much sorrow and regret for the pain I caused you and for the circumstances I put our family in, but today I am so thankful for what God has done for us and how he has brought us closer than ever. I love you so very much.
To my son- Today you are just shy of 2 1/2 , so you really won't understand what has happened for many years. When the time comes that you are able to understand all of this, I will not hide it from you. It is my deepest prayer that you are shocked. Son, I pray that the life you will know your father to have is one of upmost integrity and honor; the life of a man who lives for his Lord, his family and others before himself. I can't wait to show you the truth of these things so you can see for yourself just how far a broken person can go without Christ leading their life. These are the horrible things I was willing to do son, but there is somewhere and someone to turn to for a change of who you are. If you let Christ into your heart and let Him lead your life, there is nothing He can't help you with. I love you so much, son.
Again, I take full responsibility for my actions. I am truly sorry for what I did. I don't think I can express that enough.