REDWOOD CITY (CBS SF) — A former Peninsula police officer accused of threatening his rape victims into having sex while he was on duty made his first court appearance Monday.
Thirty-one-year-old former San Mateo police officer Noah Winchester returned to his San Mateo County jail cell shortly after his brief court appearance. It was his first since being arrested last Thursday morning.
Winchester was only before the judge for a few moments as his attorney asked for proceedings to be delayed in order to become more familiar with the case.
Winchester — who also worked as an officer with the Sacramento Police Department and the Los Rios Community College District police force in Sacramento — faces 22 felony charges including rape and kidnapping for sexual assaults on five different women.
Investigators said he would pull over young women, tell them they did something wrong and he’d arrest them unless they had sex with him.
“They did what we teach people to do, which is follow the directions of a law enforcement officer,” said San Mateo County District Attorney Jim Wagstaffe. “Not knowing that they were about to be victimized by someone who was putting a dark stain on that badge.”
Winchester’s attorney is Michael Rains, a well-known Bay Area defense lawyer. Rains has represented such big-name clients as Barry Bonds during his doping trial and Johannes Mehserle, the BART police officer who shot Oscar Grant, among others.
“Countless times where one witness makes an allegation, others hear about it,” said Rains. “And then we all of a sudden have a flurry of allegations, some of which turn out to be true in some cases. Many times, they turn out to be false.”
Rains specializes in law enforcement defense. There is also a chance that Winchester’s police union may end up assisting in his defense.
If convicted of all of the charges, Winchester could be facing life in prison.