A San Jose police officer has been charged with raping a hotel maid whom authorities say he was tasked with helping after she had fled a fight with her drunken husband.
San Jose police said that Officer Geoffrey Evatt Graves, 38, was arrested on Monday of one count of felony sexual assault following a five-month investigation. The Santa Clara County District Attorney, however, ended up filing one count of forcible rape.
Graves, who is out of custody, will not be formally arraigned until March 24. If he is convicted of the charge, he could face a maximum of eight years in prison and have to register as a sex offender, according to court documents filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court.
A judge may decide at a probable cause hearing to force him to take an HIV test.
Graves self-surrendered into the Santa Clara County Jail on Monday before posting his $100,000 bail. He was also placed on paid administrative leave. It was not immediately clear who was representing Graves, and he could not immediately be located for comment. An attorney of record was not listed on the court documents. In an email, Jim Unland, president of the San Jose Police Officers Association, said: "Our members are surprised by the relevations of this troubling event. It is a tough day for our department."
In a phone interview on Tuesday, his former stepfather spoke about what Graves used to be like when he was younger.
"He was a good kid," Art Calimpong told NBC Bay Area. He added that he was surprised to hear the charge against Graves, whom he helped raise from elementary school through Gilroy High School. "He knew what he wanted to do."
What he wanted to do was become a fire chief where he was working in Shasta Lake, according to Calimpong, who lives in Gilroy. That’s where Graves moved to after he couldn’t find a job after finishing Menlo College in Atherton, Calimpong said.
The Shasta Lake Fire Protection District confirmed to NBC Bay Area on Tuesday that Graves volunteered at the fire agency from July 2002 and resigned in May 2004.
Calimpong, who said he hasn’t seen Graves in “six or seven years,” believes Graves went on to be a paramedic before being hired by the San Jose Police Department.
In a statement, San Jose Police Chief Larry Esquivel said: "Please know that once I became aware of this incident, we quickly and proactively initiated a criminal investigation ...This is an extremely serious allegation, and if proven true, the officer will be held accountable. While this incident is very troubling and tugs at our integrity, it is an isolated incident and by no means a reflection of our officers who perform their duties with honor and professionalism on a daily basis."
District Attorney Jeff Rosen also said in a statement that, while "rare," "on duty misdeeds bestow an unjustified blight on the stellar reputation of our hard-working peace officers."
The alleged rape occurred on Sept. 22, 2013, according to police and prosecutors.
That's when Deputy District Attorney Carlos Vega said four officers, including Graves, responded to a call at the woman's house where she lived with her husband in San Jose. Police determined both spouses were drinking but no crime had occurred. The woman, a hotel maid, asked the responding officers to bring her to a nearby hotel where she had previously worked to stay the night, Vega said. About 2:30 a.m. that morning, Graves took her to the hotel.
The woman got the hotel key, went to her room alone and fell asleep, said Vega, who also used to be a police officer in Southern California.
About 15 minutes later, she heard knocking and opened the door. Graves entered the room, allegedly grabbed her and pushed her onto the bed.
Vega said Graves then took off parts of his uniform - keeping his bulletproof vest on - and then allegedly took off her underpants.
"The defendant climbed on top of the victim while she resisted with verbal and physical communication," according to a felony complaint written by San Jose Police Sgt. Craig Storlie, with the department's internal affairs unit. "The defendant forcibly engaged in sexual intercourse with the victim before leaving the hotel approximately 10 minutes later."
On Oct. 15, 2013, this allegation was brought to the attention of the San Jose Police Department through the California Highway Patrol, the agency to which the woman reported her rape. That's when detectives began investigating. Prosecutors said that physical evidence corroborated the woman's allegations, and she positively identified Graves as her alleged attacker.
In an interview, San Jose's Independent Police Auditor LaDoris Cordell said that Graves' situation is unusual. In all of 2013, a report her office wrote showed that some San Jose police officers were disciplined for "conduct unbecoming" an officer, but none for abuse of force.
Earlier this month, San Jose Firefighter Mario Cuestas was arrested on charges of selling, possessing and attempting to sell methamphetamine to an undercover police officer.
One of the biggest international stories involving the alleged rape of a hotel maid involved claims against International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in 2011. But charges were ultimately dropped against him after the woman's credibility was challenged.