Former Riverside police officer convicted of sex-related charges

A former Riverside Police Department officer was convicted today of forcing a woman to perform a sex act on him so she could avoid being arrested.

A seven-man, five-woman jury, however, acquitted 39-year-old Robert A. Forman of sexually assaulting another woman and deadlocked on whether he had assaulted a third. The panel announced its findings after two and a half days of deliberations.

Forman, who was also convicted of a misdemeanor petty theft charge, faces up to eight years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 11 by Riverside County Superior Court Judge John Molloy.

The defendant asked Molloy to permit him to remain out of custody, on $50,000 bail, until the sentencing hearing, but the judge was not inclined.

“The last thing on the planet that I want to do is take Mr. Forman into custody,” Molloy told the defendant’s attorney, Mark Johnson. “But these are very serious charges. Mr. Forman was in a position of trust.

“If it was anyone besides a police officer, I wouldn’t be taking him into custody today. I wouldn’t.”

Forman broke down in tears and asked again if he could remain free until sentencing.

“Sir, the jury has spoken,” Molloy replied.

Forman was handcuffed and allowed a few minutes to speak privately with his family before being led away.

“Our office wants people to know that we will speak for anyone, no matter who they are,” said Deputy District Attorney Elan Ben Zektser outside the courtroom, following the verdicts.

Johnson said he was “disappointed” by the jury’s findings, but did not believe his client would face the maximum sentence.

“There are a lot of factors in mitigation,” the attorney said, adding that because Forman has no prior criminal history, he could be eligible for probation.

The ex-cop was charged with two counts of forced oral copulation and one count each of felony sexual battery and petty theft for three alleged assaults between February and April 2008.

The 11-year law enforcement veteran, who was fired from the police force shortly after his arrest in October 2008, testified in his own defense, denying all the allegations against him.

He testified last week that he had consensual sex with a woman while he was in uniform but not on duty. However, the woman, identified as Kathryn, testified she performed oral sex on Forman because she felt that was the only way to avoid arrest.

Kathryn said the April 18, 2008, encounter occurred a few hours after Forman and other officers searched her residence in response to a domestic disturbance complaint. According to trial testimony, the officers discovered drug paraphernalia, including bags of methamphetamine and used syringes, as well as evidence of check fraud.

Kathryn testified that she feared being booked for violating her probation, but Forman assured her she would not be taken into custody “as long as you cooperate.” She alleged that the defendant returned to her apartment after his shift and demanded sex.

The jury found him guilty of the offense.

A sometime-prostitute and drug user identified as Tessa testified that in February 2008 Forman gave her a ride to a bus station near Chicago and University avenues and, at the end of the encounter, told her he liked her, then thrust his hand down her pants and kissed her. The woman said she quickly got out of the car.

Forman testified that Tessa had wanted to report a rape but repeatedly drifted “off track” during their 30-minute conversation, failing to provide details about her alleged assailant. He said he gave her a ride to the bus station as a courtesy.

The jury hung 8-4 in favor of guilt, prompting Molloy to declare a mistrial. Zekster would not say whether the D.A.’s office intended to retry Forman on the sexual battery count. He was found guilty of petty theft for taking the victim’s money.

Nadia, a prostitute and admitted cocaine addict, testified that in March 2008, Forman drove her to a secluded location and ordered her to “give me some head.” She said she complied, believing she had no alternative.

According to Forman, his interaction with Nadia was limited to gathering information on drug suppliers, which the jury believed.

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