Ex-Modesto officer suspected of sex crimes while on duty

Alleged victim tells her side of the story

03/15/2012 6:04 PM

03/17/2012 7:45 AM

A former Modesto police officer was arrested Thursday after detectives say he "committed criminal sexual violations against an adult female" while on duty in early January.

Lee Freddie Gaines II was arrested at his Modesto home and, after a brief court appearance, was booked at the Stanislaus County Jail, according to police Lt. Rick Armendariz. Gaines had worked for the department for five years before he was "separated from employment" with the department Feb. 10.

The arrest was made after the Stanislaus County district attorney's office obtained an indictment from a criminal grand jury.

Gaines faces felony charges of oral copulation by force, violence, duress or fear of bodily injury; being armed with a firearm in the commission of a sexual offense, and a felony sex offense enhancement.

"I apologize to every citizen of Modesto," Police Chief Mike Harden said. "There are no excuses for the conduct of this officer. The message is clear that no one is above the law."

The woman first described the incident in a phone conversation several weeks ago with The Bee. Her name is not being published because of the nature of the alleged crime.

"Today was a good day," she said late Thursday night before referring all questions about the case to her Fresno-based attorney.

The 37-year-old woman said she works as a massage therapist out of a local motel and advertises her services on a Web site.

She described the incident as follows:

About 10 p.m. on Jan. 5, she received a "call for service." She said she had been working out of that motel for a couple of years.

About 45 minutes later, there was a knock on the door. When she answered, she said she could tell by his voice that it was the same man who had called her.

She said he identified himself as a Modesto police officer. She said his name was Lee Gaines.

She said he told her to walk outside because he was going to arrest her for solicitation. She said she wasn't soliciting.

He stepped inside, shut the door and asked her to turn around and put her hands behind her back. She said he then put handcuffs on her, forced her to her knees and demanded oral copulation.

About 20 minutes later, he took the handcuffs off and left. At no time did he use a weapon to threaten her, she said.

She said that after the incident, she called a friend and stayed with that person for the night.

She said on or about Jan. 7, she got in touch with a parole officer who knew a friend of hers who was staying at the motel. The woman told the parole officer what happened. The officer put her in touch with someone at the Modesto Police Department.

In talking to The Bee, the woman said: "I want people to know what this cop is doing. I want them to know who he is, what his face is like, that he used his badge and his uniform to sexually assault a female. No matter what brought him there, that's not right. Even if they do prosecute him, the city of Modesto and the females have a right to know. I'm sure I'm not his first victim, but I'll do everything I can to make sure I'm his last."

Armendariz confirmed that the alleged incident took place Jan. 5 and that the case began Jan. 8 after someone made the department aware that Gaines may have committed possible criminal misconduct while in the performance of his law enforcement duties.

The case was forwarded to the Internal Affairs Unit, which launched criminal and administrative investigations, Armendariz said.

Gaines was placed on administrative leave and stripped of his law enforcement powers after the allegations came to light, Armendariz said.

"Those who are sworn to enforce the law have a special obligation to obey it," Harden said. "I'm disappointed and disgusted at this former officer's conduct.

"His actions were abhorrent and not representative of the dedicated staff who work tirelessly to serve the community."

Gaines made headlines in January 2010 after the patrol car he was driving at high speed on Scenic Drive spun out of control, collided with an sports utility vehicle and sheared off the back end of the car.

Modesto police concluded Gaines was at fault.

Both he and the driver of the SUV were hospitalized.

Bee Online News Editor Brian Clark can be reached at bclark@modbee.com or (209) 578-2362.

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