SACRAMENTO – If the Orange County Board of Supervisors votes to appeal the $2.25 million jury verdict recently assessed against the county in the case of a deputy accused of a vile on-duty rape, then you know what little value supervisors place on the safety of the public. That’s a lot of cash, but given the infuriatingly negligent behavior of the sheriff’s department, taxpayers are fortunate the verdict wasn’t far higher.
According to the lawsuit, former deputy Nicholas Lee Caropino was called to then-22-year-old Alexa Curtin’s house after she had an argument with her then-boyfriend. Curtin, the daughter of a former “Real Housewives of Orange County” cast member, alleges the deputy drove her to her car, made inappropriate comments about her underwear found in the car and ordered her to stay put.
Curtin alleges that “he then returned to the scene, in his vehicle and out of uniform, got into the passenger seat of her car, and raped her,” according to the Register report. The details alleged at the trial were graphic and deeply disturbing, but not fit for a family newspaper.
Some people do awful things, and it’s no surprise that some people are accused of doing them under the color of authority. But the county was rightly hit with this verdict because of its policies. Two months earlier, “a then 18-year-old San Juan Capistrano woman made similar accusations against Caropino,” the Register reported, “alleging the deputy came to her home following her release from jail … and sexually assaulted her there.”
If you had an employee accused of raping a young woman, would you allow that employee to continue to work around other young women? And if you did, you would be deserving of a lawsuit, no?
The department allowed Caropino to continue working on patrol duty. The sheriff’s department didn’t conduct an internal affairs investigation. The departmental policy is to stall any investigation while a criminal investigation is underway….