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Prosecutors: Victim assaulted by pair of cops so drunk she couldn’t consent

Former Chicago cops Juan Vasquez (left) Paul Clavijo

Former Chicago cops Juan Vasquez (left) and Paul Clavijo

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Updated: June 14, 2011 12:33AM

Two Chicago Police officers charged with sexually assaulting a drunk young woman while on duty are guilty only of “an indiscretion” and “bad decisions,” defense attorneys say.

But Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said the 22-year-old victim was so intoxicated that she was “unable to give knowing consent” to sex with officers Juan Vasquez and Paul Clavijo.

Speaking after prosecutors revealed that the victim had a blood-alcohol level of .38 — nearly five times the legal limit for driving a car in Illinois — during the alleged March 30 assault, and that Clavijo had allegedly attacked another woman previously, Alvarez said, “These officers committed an extremely offensive violation of trust, luring vulnerable young women into a situation’’ instead of protecting them.

“They victimized these women. They not only violated, but they essentially destroyed their oath of office,” Alvarez said.

Earlier Thursday, Judge Maria Kuriakos-Ciesil set bail at $500,000 each, noting the “trust that was placed on them as a result of their positions.” As of Thursday evening, Vasquez had posted bond but Clavijo remained behind bars.

In court, Vasquez, wearing a blue polo shirt, and Clavijo, wearing a University of Illinois sweatshirt, spoke only to confirm their names and to say they wished to be represented by private attorneys. Both attorneys later denied the allegations, insisting the sex had been consensual.

The officers were on duty and in uniform when they offered the victim a ride home to Rogers Park from Wrigleyville near Sheffield and Addison at 2 a.m. on March 30, Assistant Cook County States Attorney Patty Sudendorf told the judge.

The woman, who had been drinking at a friend’s home, attempted to enter the back seat of the marked squad car, but Clavijo ushered her onto his lap in the front seat, where he sexually assaulted her while Vasquez went into a liquor store, Sudendorf added.

The victim “believed she could not say no to Clavijo’s sexual advances and had to do whatever the police officer asked her to do,” Sudendorf said.

At the victim’s home in the 1300 block of West Greenleaf, she drank and played strip poker with the men, who removed their clothing and sexually assaulted her, prosecutors said. She ended up pounding on her walls and screaming that the officers had sexually assaulted her, prosecutors alleged.

Witnesses saw one of the cops fleeing naked and another putting his police uniform on in the victim’s room after neighbors dialed 911, Sudendorf added.

Police found the victim in a “hysterical” state and recovered part of Vasquez’s uniform and cell phone from the room, as well as a bottle of vodka the victim had been drinking, she said.

Swabs taken from the victim’s body indicated neither defendant can be excluded as the attacker, she said.

Clavijo is also accused of a similar crime on March 10, in which he and Vasquez allegedly picked up a 26-year-old woman at a bus stop near Clark and Sheffield, Sudendorf said. They drove her home and asked to use her restroom, prosecutors said. Inside, when Vasquez went to the bathroom, Clavijo allegedly followed the woman into her bedroom where he “pushed her onto the bed, pulled down her pants and performed a sex act on her,” prosecutors said. The woman objected, and the officers left — but she did not immediately report the crime because she worked in the area and was intimidated because the offenders were police officers and knew where she lived, according to prosecutors. Vasquez does not face charges in connection with the incident.

Speaking outside court Thursday, Clavijo’s attorney, Jed Stone, said that Clavijo is a highly regarded officer with 10 years of experience.

“Paul Clavijo is not a rapist and should not be thought of as a rapist,” he said of the father of a 20-year-old daughter. “That would be a terrible and tragic mistake.”

He said that while he could not address the March 10 allegations, he called the March 30 incident an “indiscretion,’’ which might cost Clavijo his job but was not a crime.

“I hope that none of us would be judged by the worst 15 minutes of our lives,” he said.

Clavijo “did not force himself on anyone. . . . Indiscretions, as our President Bill Clinton reminded us, are not crimes.”

Asked whether a woman with a blood-alcohol level of .38 could consent, he answered with a question: “If someone has a blood alcohol of .38, can she play strip poker?”

Vasquez’s attorney, Dan Herbert, also maintained that his client did not commit any crime and acknowledged that the March 30 incident may cost Vasquez his job. In court, he denied Vasquez was present during the March 10 incident.

There has been “a rush to judgment and a case of a police officer being held to a different standard than any other profession,” he said. “This is not a criminal incident. Were there some bad decisions made? Absolutely.”

Both men were ordered by the judge to surrender their police weapons. Both had been assigned to desk duties since the allegations surfaced.

Acting Police Supt. Terry Hillard said Thursday the officers would be placed back on administrative duties once they make bail, but that they still face internal police sanctions and an ongoing investigation. He praised the courage of the victims, adding: “This is a sad day, not because two members of the Chicago Police Department have been arrested and charged — it’s a sad day because of the unimaginable damage that’s been done to two individuals, multiple families and the community.”

Hillard in March voiced his outrage at the incident and hinted that neither officer had a stellar record.

Clavijo, who state records indicate has the license plate “ALL BLUE,” and Vasquez, traveled miles outside the district in which they worked to visit the victim’s home on the night of the attack, but could not be traced at the time because a GPS tracking device on their squad car was not functioning, law enforcement sources said.

As a result, the department is conducting a review of the system, the sources said, adding that it doesn’t appear the officers tampered with their device.

The department started installing GPS devices on squad cars in 2006. They’ve used them to clear cops of misconduct, but they also have been used as evidence against officers.

Last year, two officers were returned to duty after a GPS device showed they weren’t present during the alleged beating of a handcuffed suspect.

GPS also led the department last year to launch an investigation of three officers and a sergeant for improperly taking credit for an arrest of a robbery suspect by University of Chicago police.

Contributing: Frank Main, Fran Spielman

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