The family of a woman whose corpse was allegedly molested by a Los Angeles policeman in 2019 sued the city and the officer Tuesday.
The mother of Elizabeth Baggett brought the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the city and Officer David Rojas, who is criminally charged with a felony count of having sexual contact with human remains without authority.
Baggett’s teenage son and the boy’s father also are plaintiffs.
At a news conference at the office of the family’s attorney, Gloria Allred, Janet Baggett wiped away tears as she spoke about her family’s anguish over what happened to her daughter.
“I am infuriated that this man had so little respect for another human being, our Elizabeth, for not having the thought that she is someone’s daughter, granddaughter and mother,” she said. “We, her family, have sleepless nights, if we are able to sleep. I personally wake in sweats from the nightmares that haunt me about the events of Elizabeth’s death. Days are not much better.”
Allred said: “The unexpected loss of Elizabeth has been devastating for this family, and learning that she and her remains have been so disrespected and violated has compounded the loss and inflicted horrific pain and suffering on her loved ones. Learning, too, that the video of her alleged sexual molestation has been viewed by others sickens them and is deeply disturbing.”
The suit alleges invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, mishandling of human remains and intrusion into private affairs. The plaintiffs seek unspecified damages.
A representative for the City Attorney’s Office said the case will be reviewed, but there would be no further comment.
According to the suit, Rojas and still unidentified “Does” went to Baggett’s home last Oct. 20 on a report of a body. After finding the 34-year-old woman dead, Rojas sexually molested the corpse, fondling her breasts and feeling her nipples, the suit alleges.
Rojas’ bodycam recorded video of Baggett naked and included images of him engaging in the inappropriate conduct with Baggett, according to the suit, which states that California’s Health and Safety Code prohibits any person from having sexual contact with any remains known to be human.
“There must be accountability to this family for this shameful course of conduct,” Allred said. “What an officer from the LAPD did to Elizabeth must never happen again.”
The allegation against Rojas, 27, was brought to the LAPD on Nov. 20. The four-year Los Angeles Police Department veteran — who was assigned to the downtown-area Central Division — was subsequently placed on leave.
Rojas was arrested Dec. 12 by Los Angeles police and released on bond later that day.
“This incident is extremely disturbing and does not represent the values of the Los Angeles Police Department,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore said then.
Rojas pleaded not guilty in January and could be sentenced to up to three years in prison if convicted.
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