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San Diego police sex suit includes nepotism charge

Would Christopher Hays be cop without his father-in-law?

Hays on Channel 10 story
Hays on Channel 10 story

Today, June 20 San Diego city councilmembers are expected to approve a settlement to a woman sexually assaulted by former San Diego police officer Christopher Hays.

Terms of the tentative settlement are not yet public, however, an attorney for the woman said it was in line with previous settlement amounts awarded to Hays' other victims which have ranged from $160,000 to $550,000.

THE ALLEGED ASSAULT

Melanie Wilson was collecting recyclables from trash cans near 50th Street and El Cajon Boulevard on December 23, 2013 when then patrol officer Hays stopped to question her. Wilson, who according to the claim suffers from mental illness as well as substance abuse, told Hays she was lost and needed a ride home. Hays agreed. He drove Wilson to a house she had been staying at. Once at the door Hays allegedly asked to search Wilson for contraband. The search, reads the lawsuit, turned into a three-minute long groping session, touching Wilson's "breasts and vagina, and lingering over every part of her body."

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The alleged assault was one in a string of seven sexual assaults that Hays committed from August 12, 2012 to December 24, 2013. In February 2014 officers arrested Hays.

He later plead guilty to one felony false imprisonment charge and two misdemeanor assault charges. He served five months of a twelve month sentence.

In August 2015 the City of San Diego paid $550,000 to one victim who, on October 30, 2013, Hays conducted a twenty-minute long "pat down" on her and then forced her to frisk him in return. That same month the city paid $400,000 to a woman who Hays had allegedly barricaded in a bedroom and forced her to watch him masturbate.

The city has continued to settle the lawsuits. In November 2016 the city paid $160,000 to settle a claim filed by Trent Veasey who claims Hays gave him an ultimatum during one routine stop in December 2013: be charged with a crime or perform oral sex on him. Veasey chose the latter. He filed his complaint in March 2014.

SAN DIEGO POLICE DEPARTMENT'S BLUE WALL

Wilson's attorneys say Hays was a product of male-dominated culture within the San Diego Police Department, a culture wherein supervisors would overlook complaints against the city's police force. Doing so, says the lawsuit, allowed rogue cops such as Anthony Arrevalos to have assaulted dozens of women over the course of a ten-year period without any discipline from his superior officers.

As for Hays, attorneys believe that he would have never been given a badge if it wasn't for the fact that his father-in-law was then captain, and current Assistant Chief, Mark Jones. According to court documents an instructor at the police academy had recommended that Hays not be hired due to "well below average" performance. However, instead of getting "washed out" of the academy, the police department hired Hays in 2010.

THE SETTLEMENT

The city had argued, in some cases successfully, that Wilson had waited too long to file the lawsuit against Hays and should not be allowed to move forward. In January federal judge Cynthia Bashant granted a motion by the city to dismiss a portion of the claim. Bashant then allowed Wilson's attorneys to file an amended complaint for the second claim, thus allowing the case to proceed.

Court documents filed with the court show a tentative settlement was reached during a March mediation.

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Hays on Channel 10 story
Hays on Channel 10 story

Today, June 20 San Diego city councilmembers are expected to approve a settlement to a woman sexually assaulted by former San Diego police officer Christopher Hays.

Terms of the tentative settlement are not yet public, however, an attorney for the woman said it was in line with previous settlement amounts awarded to Hays' other victims which have ranged from $160,000 to $550,000.

THE ALLEGED ASSAULT

Melanie Wilson was collecting recyclables from trash cans near 50th Street and El Cajon Boulevard on December 23, 2013 when then patrol officer Hays stopped to question her. Wilson, who according to the claim suffers from mental illness as well as substance abuse, told Hays she was lost and needed a ride home. Hays agreed. He drove Wilson to a house she had been staying at. Once at the door Hays allegedly asked to search Wilson for contraband. The search, reads the lawsuit, turned into a three-minute long groping session, touching Wilson's "breasts and vagina, and lingering over every part of her body."

Sponsored
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The alleged assault was one in a string of seven sexual assaults that Hays committed from August 12, 2012 to December 24, 2013. In February 2014 officers arrested Hays.

He later plead guilty to one felony false imprisonment charge and two misdemeanor assault charges. He served five months of a twelve month sentence.

In August 2015 the City of San Diego paid $550,000 to one victim who, on October 30, 2013, Hays conducted a twenty-minute long "pat down" on her and then forced her to frisk him in return. That same month the city paid $400,000 to a woman who Hays had allegedly barricaded in a bedroom and forced her to watch him masturbate.

The city has continued to settle the lawsuits. In November 2016 the city paid $160,000 to settle a claim filed by Trent Veasey who claims Hays gave him an ultimatum during one routine stop in December 2013: be charged with a crime or perform oral sex on him. Veasey chose the latter. He filed his complaint in March 2014.

SAN DIEGO POLICE DEPARTMENT'S BLUE WALL

Wilson's attorneys say Hays was a product of male-dominated culture within the San Diego Police Department, a culture wherein supervisors would overlook complaints against the city's police force. Doing so, says the lawsuit, allowed rogue cops such as Anthony Arrevalos to have assaulted dozens of women over the course of a ten-year period without any discipline from his superior officers.

As for Hays, attorneys believe that he would have never been given a badge if it wasn't for the fact that his father-in-law was then captain, and current Assistant Chief, Mark Jones. According to court documents an instructor at the police academy had recommended that Hays not be hired due to "well below average" performance. However, instead of getting "washed out" of the academy, the police department hired Hays in 2010.

THE SETTLEMENT

The city had argued, in some cases successfully, that Wilson had waited too long to file the lawsuit against Hays and should not be allowed to move forward. In January federal judge Cynthia Bashant granted a motion by the city to dismiss a portion of the claim. Bashant then allowed Wilson's attorneys to file an amended complaint for the second claim, thus allowing the case to proceed.

Court documents filed with the court show a tentative settlement was reached during a March mediation.

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