A two-year prison term was handed down Thursday for a former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who engaged in sexual activity with six female inmates in a Lynwood jail.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Renee Korn said Giancarlo Scotti “took advantage of a position of trust” involving the women, who were in “indeed vulnerable” while in custody at the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood between August and September 2017.
“This court intends to give the defendant a state prison sentence because that is what he deserves,” the judge said.
On his 33rd birthday Sept. 5, Scotti agreed to accept the judge’s offer of the two-year state prison term in exchange for his no contest plea to six felony counts of sexual activity with a detainee in a detention facility and two misdemeanor counts of sexual activity with a detainee in a jail facility.
Deputy District Attorney Hyunah Suh — who was seeking a three-year state prison sentence — objected to the lower term, telling the judge at the Sept. 5 hearing that the inmates felt they were in a position where they had no choice or were in a vulnerable state although there was no physical restraint or force involved in the crimes.
But the judge said she believed the two-year term was the appropriate “punishment” for Scotti, who she noted had lost his job and admitted responsibility early on in the case.
One of the women told the judge that she “felt an ultimate betrayal” upon learning about the status of the case against Scotti.
“As much as I’ve tried to forget it, it doesn’t just get wiped away,” she said, noting that the number one rule in jail is to “obey officers.”
In a statement read in court by the prosecutor, another woman called what had happened to her “humiliating” and “life-changing” and said Scotti had used his authority to take advantage of herself and others.
Justin E. Sterling, an attorney representing those two women, said in a statement after the sentencing, “Our clients felt it important to be heard today and I commend their bravery and courage in providing victim impact statements in open court. Utter disappointment, however, would be the most appropriate way to describe our reaction to the court’s decision to inexplicably offer Mr. Scotti less time than what the District Attorney’s Office was seeking. The court’s sentence today is another symptom of something we see all too often and is further evidence that there appears to be a parallel justice system in place — one for you and me, and one reserved for members of law enforcement.”
Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell told reporters that fall that Scotti had been placed on administrative leave in connection with allegations then involving two female inmates. The sheriff said then that at least one of the women reported the crime about 9 a.m. Sept. 13, 2017, 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 that afternoon and then being taken into custody that evening.
“The evidence was compelling enough for us to make the arrest,” the then-sheriff told reporters after Scotti’s arrest.
Scotti was subsequently freed on bond, and the criminal charges involving the six female inmates were filed against him in February 2018.
The judge ordered that he immediately be taken into custody after the sentencing, and Scotti was led away in handcuffs.
Korn said she would recommend that Scotti serve his time in a fire camp — as requested by the defense — and ordered him not to contact any of the six women. She noted that he will never work again in law enforcement as a result of his conviction.
Scotti’s attorney, Anthony Falangetti, said after the hearing that he appreciated the judge’s “careful and thoughtful consideration of this case.”
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