Police

'Sadistic History of Sexual Violence': Another Alleged Victim of Ex-Phoenix Cop Sues

Phoenix Police Department vehicles.
Phoenix Police Department vehicles. Pryat Wesly/Flickr
Another woman has filed a lawsuit alleging that a former Phoenix police officer sexually assaulted her while she was inside his department-issued vehicle.

The lawsuit was filed on June 18 in Maricopa County Superior Court by Lisa Gutierrez. The complaint, which has since been moved to the U.S. District Court of Arizona, claims that Gutierrez is one of three women who were sexually assaulted by the ex-cop, Sean Pena. Pena and the City of Phoenix are named as defendants.

This is the second lawsuit against Pena and the City of Phoenix over allegations that he sexually assaulted multiple victims. Last December, another woman, Krystofer Lee, filed a lawsuit containing similar allegations; she told Phoenix New Times that Pena forced her to give him a hand job inside his patrol vehicle in June 2019 and threatened to kill her if she didn't meet him again. The city agreed to settle the lawsuit for $425,000 last June, according to the Arizona Republic.

Prior to that, Pena was indicted by a grand jury in August 2020 on felony charges for allegedly assaulting three separate women, including Lee and Gutierrez. He was fired by the Phoenix Police Department in July 2020.

Mercedes Fortune, a spokesperson for the Phoenix Police Department, did not respond to Phoenix New Times' request for comment. David Dow, an attorney representing Gutierrez, did not respond to a request for comment. John Masterson, an attorney representing Pena in the case, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Dan Wilson, a spokesperson for the City of Phoenix, wrote in an email to New Times that Pena's actions "do not represent the high level of integrity and professionalism demanded from all members of the Phoenix Police Department."

Gutierrez, who is described in the lawsuit as a black woman, alleges that on August 5, 2019, she called the Phoenix Police Department due to a vague "incident with a family friend." Pena, along with another Phoenix police officer, Antonia Felix, responded to the call. Gutierrez was placed in the back of Pena's patrol car and they drove to the home of a suspect for "identification purposes." When Pena dropped her off back at her house, he allegedly commented that her then-boyfriend had a misdemeanor warrant, that he could take him into custody, and that her shirt was "see-through."

At 11:00 p.m. that evening, Gutierrez was walking home from the grocery store when she saw Pena parked outside her house inside his patrol car. Pena told her to come to his car, which she did. He proceeded to grab her hand and place it on his "exposed penis," the suit states. Pena allegedly made statements like "Did you like that?" and "Is this big enough for you?" per the complaint. He finally let Gutierrez go and told her that he would call her in an hour.

After walking home in a "panic," Gutierrez received a call from Pena while she was inside her house with her daughter and ex-boyfriend. He told her to meet him in a field (the complaint doesn't specify where exactly). Gutierrez complied. According to the lawsuit, Pena's cell phone records showed that he called Gutierrez eight times between 10:44 p.m. and 11:05 p.m. that evening.

"Because Defendant Pena was a police officer, Plaintiff felt obligated to go to the field as she feared for the lives and safety of her child, herself and what could happen to her then-boyfriend," the filing states. "Plaintiff was afraid of Defendant Pena as he had already showed up at her home uninvited and forced sexual contact with Plaintiff. She was afraid that if she did not comply, she would be killed."

Gutierrez found Pena parked in his patrol car in the vacant lot. There, Pena "forced" her to masturbate "inside his patrol vehicle while he exposed and fondled her breast." Pena made "sexually explicit comments" to Gutierrez and "pulled" her face close to his penis, which she believed was him attempting to "ejaculate on her face." He eventually ejaculated on Gutierrez's "breast and dress" and finally let her go home. She eventually reported the incident to the Tempe Police Department, which forwarded the information to the Phoenix Police Department.

The lawsuit also accuses the Phoenix Police Department of failing to properly investigate previous sexual assault allegations against Pena. It claims that the department received a report in 2018 from a woman who claimed that Pena sexually assaulted her after he arrested her for an outstanding warrant but conducted "nothing more than a cursory and wholly inadequate investigation" into the allegations. That investigation allegedly determined that there was "insufficient evidence" to substantiate the report.

The complaint goes on to claim that the department didn't "increase supervision" of Pena following the incident, and that probes into his "sadistic history of sexual violence" weren't launched until 2019.

The "lackadaisical nature of the investigation emboldened" Pena to "commit additional acts of sexual violence" by allowing "a sexual predator to continue patrolling the streets of Phoenix alone in a single-man unit with authority, a weapon and no supervision," the complaint states.

In her lawsuit, Gutierrez accuses Pena of violating her Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment constitutional rights and the City of Phoenix of failing to train, supervise and discipline its officers. She's seeking an unspecified amount in damages.
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Josh Kelety is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. Previously, he worked as a reporter for the Inlander and Seattle Weekly.
Contact: Josh Kelety