A 10-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was arrested for allegedly raping two female inmates in a Lynwood jail, Sheriff Jim McDonnell announced Thursday.
Deputy Giancarlo Scotti, 31, was arrested around 6 p.m. Wednesday, hours after the alleged early morning assaults at the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood, McDonnell said.
Scotti was arrested while on duty and booked in Norwalk on suspicion of two counts each of rape under color of authority and oral copulation under color of authority, then released on $100,000 bond, the sheriff said.
The deputy has been placed on administrative leave, McDonnell said.
The sheriff said the alleged crimes took place over about an hour or so in the “early morning hours” Wednesday, involving two women in the same cell in a jail dormitory. He said at least one of the women reported the alleged crime at about 9 a.m. to a teaching instructor who works inside the jail.
McDonnell said an investigation began immediately, with the scene being locked down to preserve evidence and the deputy being notified and remaining in the watch commander’s office until 2 p.m. that day.
“At this time, there’s no indication that any other personnel were involved and the focus of this investigation remains on one individual,” the sheriff said. “The evidence was compelling enough for us to make the arrest.”
The Sheriff’s Department has a policy that a male deputy or custody assistant should have a female deputy or custody assistant present if they’re going to go into a cell in a female custody environment, but “that did not happen in this case,” McDonnell said.
“He had access at this point to these two victims by himself at that time. There are other people working in the general area, but they’ve all got duties and responsibilities and doing recurring checks on inmates throughout the facility. So, I would say that at a particular point in time he was by himself,” the sheriff said. “The investigation has yet to determine who else was in the area and the ability for them to have been able to see a concern over his behavior or what they were able to see, what they did see. And, again, we’ll be putting all of the evidence together — video and everything else we have — to paint the bigger picture.”
McDonnell told reporters Scotti is “being treated as any other person who faces criminal charges with the rights that our justice system affords a defendant in a criminal case.”
“Having said that, let me be clear that (a) crime of this nature is horrific. Criminal misconduct, especially criminal misconduct that preys on a vulnerable population, will not be tolerated and will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” the sheriff said. “We have a public obligation to follow the evidence and the facts. We have a moral duty to assure our public and the inmates in our care that we take these allegations very seriously.”
He said he wanted to “assure the public that the care and custody of our inmates is of paramount importance to us and that, you know, the investigation is moving forward.”
McDonnell refused to discuss details about the evidence or whether Scotti had any prior disciplinary issues.
Scotti — whose case has not yet been presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office — is due in court Oct. 6.
The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the union that represents deputies, called on residents to avoid rushing to judgment.
“We urge the public to withhold judgment until the facts of the case are proven,” according to the union. “We too believe there should be zero tolerance for any law enforcement officer who is proven to have taken advantage of anyone who is in custody.”
—City News Service