A California jury on Wednesday found former police officer Noah White Winchester guilty of sexually assaulting five women while on duty.
Winchester, 35, could face a maximum sentence of life in prison for 14 felonies, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told the San Mateo Daily Journal. Several victims initially feared reporting the rapes, as well as threats and kidnapping, because of his authority as an officer, the newspaper reported.
“The defendant is someone we all entrusted with a uniform, gun and badge and asked to serve our community,” Deputy District Attorney Alpana Samant told the Palo Alto Daily Post. “But what he did was hunt and prey on the most vulnerable women in our society.”
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Winchester allegedly sexually assaulted women while working for the San Mateo Police Department in 2015, the Journal reported, and while serving as an officer for Sacramento's Los Rios Community College Police Department in 2013.
When targeting victims, Wagstaffe told KPIX-TV that Winchester identified women who committed a minor offense. The former officer would also make sure no fellow officers were in the area during his assaults.
The San Mateo Police Department thanked the jury and District Attorney's Office for bringing Winchester to justice in a statement provided to the Journal.
“We want to assure our community the actions of one in no way represent the men and women of the San Mateo Police Department as a whole, who strive to serve this community daily with the highest level of professionalism and service," the statement said.
Authorities arrested Winchester in July 2016, about five months after he quit his job in San Mateo amid a criminal investigation. He had since been in custody on $3.1 million bail.
A judge is scheduled to determine Winchester's sentence in December. His attorney told the Post he plans to file for an appeal.