A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy was charged Wednesday with sexually assaulting six female inmates in a Lynwood jail facility.
Giancarlo Scotti, 31, faces six felony counts and two misdemeanor counts of sexual activity with a detainee in a detention facility, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
When reached by phone Wednesday, Scotti’s defense attorney, Anthony Falangetti, said his client plans to plead not guilty.
“Sheriff’s Deputy Giancarlo Scotti never sexually assaulted anybody,” Falangetti said.
The alleged assaults reportedly occurred at the Century Regional Detention Facility between March and September last year. Scotti, a 10-year veteran of the department, was arrested in September, hours after two women came forward to a teaching instructor with allegations about an attack. He was released from custody on bail.
At the time, Sheriff Jim McDonnell said the women shared a cell and Scotti was able “to put himself in a place where he was alone” with them. The attacks took place over the course of an hour, he said.
Prosecutors said Wednesday that Scotti ordered the two inmates to perform oral sex on him and that he later took the women to a shower area and had “unlawful” sex with both of them.
Inmates cannot legally consent to sexual intercourse with deputies under state and federal law.
In November, the Sheriff’s Department said investigators had interviewed 150 witnesses and presented a case to prosecutors a month earlier that involved three victims. Since then, investigators have identified three additional victims, said Nicole Nishida, a spokeswoman for the agency.
Last year, two women filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Department accusing Scotti of assaulting them. According to the complaint, Scotti was known as a “cool” guard who flirted with inmates.
In August, the lawsuit alleged, a pregnant inmate was changing inside her cell when he approached and ordered her to expose her genitals to him.
Scotti then opened his pants and ordered her to get on her knees, according to the lawsuit. The woman took Scotti’s words as an order to perform oral sex and “felt like she had no other choice but to comply with Deputy Scotti’s forcible commands,” according to the lawsuit.
The second plaintiff in the lawsuit accused Scotti of sexually assaulting her in a shower at the jail the day before his arrest. She saved some of Scotti’s semen on a piece of tissue paper, which she provided to investigators, according to the suit.
Both women, who are no longer in custody, also alleged they were mistreated by jail staff after agreeing to speak with investigators about Scotti.
One was restricted from drug and mental health counseling after reporting the alleged abuse, and jail staff denied her the special meals reserved for pregnant women, according to the lawsuit.
The Times generally does not name victims in sexual assault cases.
Justin Sterling, an attorney representing the two plaintiffs, said Wednesday that he was pleased with the charges.
“This case represents the worst of the worst in terms of law enforcement abuse by an individual that was actually tasked with protecting these women,” he said. “It’s the start of the process that ultimately gets them one step closer to justice.”
Scotti, who officials said remains on paid administrative leave, was arrested again on Wednesday, his attorney said. Prosecutors recommended his bail be set at $400,000.
If convicted of all the charges, he faces up to seven years and four months in state prison.
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