Antonio police officer was convicted Wednesday of
violating the civil rights of a transsexual who said
the officer raped and beat her during a traffic stop.
The jury found that Officer Dean Gutierrez's conduct
violated Gabriel Bernal's rights through aggravated sexual
assault. A sentencing hearing is set for December 1. The
felony carries a sentence of up to life in prison and
as much as $250,000 in fines, the U.S. Justice
names of sexual assault victims are usually withheld, Bernal
has consented to have her name made public. Bernal goes by
the name of Starlight and prefers to be addressed as a
woman, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
In the trial,
prosecutors presented DNA evidence and the testimony of
Bernal, 23. Prosecutors said Gutierrez, 46, stopped Bernal
on June 10, 2005, ordered her into his car, and drove
her to a remote location where he physically and
sexually assaulted her.
argued in the trial that Bernal had consensual oral sex with
Gutierrez and was lying about the incident in order to later
win money in a civil lawsuit. Prosecutors said no suit
had been filed.
official authority to forcibly violate another
individual, as the defendant did in this case, is disturbing
and abhorrent," Wan J. Kim, assistant attorney general
for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department
of Justice, said in a news release.
16-year police veteran who previously had been placed on
indefinite suspension, was taken into custody following the