STOCKTON (CBS SF) — A former police officer who had served with both the San Mateo and Sacramento police departments was arrested Thursday near his Stockton home on nearly two dozen charges including rape, kidnapping and other sexual assaults, according to authorities.
The San Mateo District Attorney’s Office on Thursday issued a press release detailing the arrest. 31-year-old Noah White Winchester — who had worked as an officer with the Sacramento Police Department, the Los Rios Community College District police force in Sacramento and the San Mateo Police Department — was taken into custody Thursday in Stockton home by investigators from the DA’s Office.
According to San Mateo County District Attorney Stephen M. Wagstaffe, 22 charges of felony sexual assault have been filed against against Winchester. The charges include rape, kidnapping with intent to commit rape, sexual penetration and oral copulation under color of authority, sexual battery, criminal threats, and forcible sex offenses involving five separate victims.
Winchester is accused of using his authority as a police officer to rape and sexually assault women after threatening to arrest them on made-up charges.
“Some of them, he would pull them over, talk to them about whatever it was he was stopping them for, and then make a decision that this was a victim,” said Wagstaffe.
Winchester would then take them to a secluded park or a motel.
The press release stated that the alleged crimes occurred between July 2, 2013 and October 19, 2015. The 2013 offenses were perpetrated on Sacramento victims while Winchester was employed as a police officer for the Los Rios Community College District. The 2015 sexual assaults were committed on San Mateo County victims while he was on duty as a police officer for the City of San Mateo.
The investigation was opened in October and Winchester resigned in February. But news of the investigations into his conduct didn’t surface publicly until May, when Wagstaffe and San Mateo police Chief Susan Manheimer revealed he was under investigation.
The San Mateo County investigation into Winchester was opened on Oct. 20, when police in Burlingame responded to a distressed driver in the area of El Camino Real and Chapin Avenue at about 5:15 a.m. After contacting the driver, Burlingame police referred the report to San Mateo police for further investigation, according to Burlingame police records.
The allegations had happened the previous night at about 10 p.m., San Mateo police said.
The San Mateo Police Department released a statement Thursday saying that while it respects his presumption of innocence under the legal system, if proven true the allegations are a “disgrace.”
“We are horrified by the news of the recent arrest of this former San Mateo and Los Rios Community College District Police Officer, and want to assure our community and our leaders that this neither reflects nor deflects the dedication to duty and selfless service that our men and women commit themselves to every day on every contact,” police said in the statement.
While Manheimer said that as soon as the allegations against Winchester came to light she immediately suspended his police powers and contacted the district attorney’s office, even at the time Winchester was hired he was under investigation in Sacramento.
Sacramento police opened a criminal investigation into Winchester in 2013, when he was a member of the Los Rios Community College District police force, according to Sacramento police Sgt. Bryce Heinlein.
Winchester was briefly employed by the Sacramento Police Department in 2006 and 2007, but was released before his probationary period was up.
Heinlein refused to provide more information about the Sacramento investigation into Winchester through a California Public Records Act request, citing the ongoing investigation.
In 2015, another victim came forward to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department regarding a 2013 incident, according to sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Tony Turnbull.
Winchester served with the Los Rios Police Department from January 2009 to January 2015, according to district spokesman Mitchel Benson. He joined the San Mateo department early in 2015.
Los Rios police Chief Cheryl Sears said in May that her department was cooperating with Wagstaffe’s investigation, though his office had only contacted the Los Rios department in May after news reports of Winchester’s conduct had already surfaced.
“People sometimes feel that if you’re a police officer you get protected,” said Wagstaffe. “We always say it doesn’t matter if you’re a prince or a pauper. Well, for us, it doesn’t matter if you’re a prince, a pauper or a police officer. You commit a crime, you’re going to be held accountable.”
Winchester is currently in custody on $3,100,000 bail. According to the District Attorney, he will make his first court appearance early next week unless he posts bail prior to that time.
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