A San Luis Obispo judge has tentatively ruled that the woman whom a former Paso Robles police officer allegedly raped can sue the North County city, despite not filing a claim within the normal time frame.
Judge Ginger Garrett issued a tentative ruling on Wednesday, finding it was reasonable that the alleged victim did not meet a sixth-month deadline for filing a claim against the city. Garrett may rule formally at a hearing on Thursday that the woman can sue Paso Robles.
The alleged victim claims, while on duty, former Paso Robles Sgt. Christopher McGuire grabbed her, placed one of her hands on his firearm and the other on his erect penis and asked her which “gun” she preferred. McGuire allegedly raped the woman a few days later and again tried to sexually assault her several months later.
SLO County Sheriff’s detectives conducted an investigation and found at least three women who alleged McGuire assaulted and harassed them or engaged in misconduct in their presence. The sheriff’s office recommended prosecutors charge McGuire with forcible rape, attempted forcible rape and assault and battery, but District Attorney Dan Dow announced last November that the DA’s office would not file charges against the officer.
Even though DNA evidence found at the alleged victim’s home showed McGuire had sex with the woman and investigators noted the sex acts occurred while the officer was in uniform, Dow said he could not prove the sex acts were not consensual. The California Attorney General’s Office is now reviewing the DA’s decision not to prosecute the case.
McGuire, who has since resigned from the Paso Robles police force, allegedly sexually assaulted the woman after she called 911 to report she had been assaulted by her boyfriend. Other officers left following the arrest of the victim’s boyfriend, but McGuire stayed behind.
While at the woman’s home on Dec. 19, 2017, McGuire allegedly instructed her to hug him, which she reluctantly did. McGuire allegedly grabbed the woman’s hand and placed it on his firearm and his holster. The woman alleges McGuire placed her other hand on his erect penis and asked which “gun” she preferred, according to Garrett’s tentative ruling.
McGuire left the woman’s home but returned within an hour with another officer. The two officers left after explaining the sexual assault response process.
A few days later, McGuire appeared at the woman’s home in civilian clothes claiming to be conducting a welfare check. McGuire allegedly told the woman he needed to speak with her in the detached garage of the home.
The woman accompanied McGuire to the garage, where the officer allegedly locked the door, pulled down his pants and attempted to force the victim to perform oral sex on him. When the woman refused, McGuire allegedly pulled down her pants and raped her.
McGuire then allegedly told the woman he would be conducting additional patrol checks in her neighborhood that evening. McGuire allegedly threatened the woman, instructing her not to tell anyone or he would harm her or have her children taken away by social services.
The then-officer allegedly appeared at the woman’s house several times thereafter, all while he was on patrol.
In April 2018, McGuire pulled the woman over while she was driving with her daughter inside the car. McGuire allegedly expressed anger that the woman informed others of the sexual assault, and he ordered her to drive to her new home.
McGuire allegedly followed the woman to her home and ordered her to enter her bedroom. The then-officer allegedly followed the woman into the bedroom, locked the door, placed his gun on the bathroom counter, unzipped his pants and tried to force the woman to perform oral sex on him.
The woman allegedly fought back and screamed. McGuire allegedly responded by telling the woman to be quiet because he children were home and ordering her to escort him out of the house.
During the initial probe into the case, the woman retained attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu to represent her over the course of the criminal investigation. The woman claims she never discussed potential civil action with Funke-Bilu, and no Paso Robles official notified her of her right to file a claim with the city.
In Dec. 2018, about two months after the six-month deadline to file a claim passed, the woman retained a civil attorney. Her lawyer served a request to present a late claim in February.
Individuals are allowed six months following the deadline to apply to present a late claim. In her attempt to pursue legal action against Paso Robles, the woman has argued she was unaware of the claims process until last December, and she believed her only recourse was in criminal court.
The city of Paso Robles argued the woman was capable of filing the claim on time and should not be allowed to move forward with legal action.
In her tentative ruling, Judge Garrett stated the woman endured a traumatic ordeal, compounded by the sheriff’s office investigation. It was reasonable that she would not pursue civil action within the required time frame, Garrett stated.