Two former LAPD officers who pleaded no contest to forcing women to have sex with them while on duty were sentenced Monday to 25 years in prison, PEOPLE confirms.
Former narcotics officers James Nichols, 46, and Luis Valenzuela, 45, appeared in Los Angeles County Superior Court Monday, where they each pleaded no contest to two counts of forcible rape and two counts of forcible oral copulation, according to a press release from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
The former partners were accused of ordering four women into their unmarked patrol car on the streets of Hollywood and forcing them to perform sex acts on them from 2008 to 2011, the Times reported.
The pair took turns serving as a lookout while the other sexually assaulted the women, the Los Angeles Times reported.
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Ranging in age from 19 to 34, the women were either confidential informants or had been arrested on suspicion of drug-related crimes, according to Newsweek.
If the women refused to perform the sex acts, the officers threatened to expose them as informants to the drug dealers, potentially putting their lives in danger, or throw them in jail, according to local TV station KABC.
Judge Ronald S. Coen ordered the pair to register as sex offenders, NBC Los Angeles reports.
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Some of the survivors spoke out in court about the trauma they endured.
“Every time I see a police car while driving, a panic takes over me,” one survivor said on the witness stand, KABC reports. “My heart starts to beat so fast, like it’s about to explode.”
Expressing outrage about the disgraced officers outside of the courtroom, one of the lead investigators on the case, Detective Carla Zuniga told reporters, according to the Times, “They wore a badge to protect people. Instead, they terrorized them. They tarnished the public trust. People trust the police. Every time something like this happens, we have to walk into the community and say, ‘No, that’s not us.’ ”
Additional victims may also come forward, prosecutors said, according to ABC.
The two officers were put on unpaid leave in 2013 and were relieved of duty, the Times reports. They will be formally terminated now, the Times says. They have been in jail since 2016, when they were arrested on felony charges.
While the criminal case has come to an end, the city of Los Angeles has agreed to pay a total of more than $1.8 million in settlements to three of the women who filed civil lawsuits, the Times reports.
The fourth woman’s case is still pending.