L.A. County sheriff's deputy arrested on suspicion of on-duty sexual assault of inmate

LOS ANGELES, CA-OCTOBER 2, 2017: An inmate inside Century Regional Detention Facility in Los Angeles heads towards her upstairs cell on Monday, October 2, 2017. The jail, which houses female inmates, is where two alleged rapes by a male guard happened earlier this month. The alleged assaults came at a time when the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which runs the jail, is trying to implement changes to ensure the sexual safety of inmates and become compliant with a federal mandate to eliminate prison rape. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
An inmate inside Century Regional Detention Facility in Los Angeles heads toward her upstairs cell in 2017. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy was arrested this week on suspicion of sexually assaulting an inmate while on duty at the women’s jail in Lynwood, authorities said Wednesday.

The investigation into 27-year-old Jonathan Tejada Paredes began Tuesday, when Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials learned of a sexual assault allegation involving a woman incarcerated at the Century Regional Detention Facility.

Detectives opened an investigation and arrested Paredes a day later, the department said. The department did not offer additional details about what happened.

Officials said he was booked at a sheriff’s station around 1 p.m. and his bail set at $100,000. It was not immediately clear whether he had retained an attorney.

Late Wednesday, the union that represents deputies condemned the alleged actions while calling for a thorough investigation of the claims.

“The allegations in this case, if true, are nothing shy of appalling,” said Richard Pippin, president of the Assn. of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs. “ALADS takes allegations of this nature very seriously, and we know the sheriff’s department does as well. We expect the department will conduct a thorough investigation into this matter and we’ll look forward to the outcome of that investigation.”

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Over the last five years, more than half a dozen women have accused Lynwood jailers of sexually assaulting them, allegations that led to at least two criminal convictions and one multimillion-dollar legal payout.

In 2017, then-deputy Giancarlo Scotti was arrested after inmates told a teacher he’d attacked them. Scotti was initially charged with two counts of rape and two counts of oral copulation under color of authority.

“It’s disgusting to all of us, to anyone who wears a badge,” former Sheriff Jim McDonnell said at the time.

After Scotti’s arrest, more women came forward with similar claims. A 10-year veteran of the department, Scotti was charged with six felonies and two misdemeanors. He was sentenced to two years in prison, less than a third of the maximum possible sentence.

“When he’s putting on his street clothes … I’ll be waking in a cold sweat,” one victim tearfully told a judge when Scotti was sentenced in 2019.

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Several of Scotti’s accusers filed lawsuits or legal claims, and the county agreed to pay $3.9 million in settlements. One woman, who was pregnant at the time, alleged that the jailer had ordered her to her knees and directed her to perform oral sex. Another said Scotti had sexually assaulted her in a jail shower one day before his arrest. She saved some of his semen on a piece of tissue paper, which she provided to investigators, according to her lawsuit.

Then in 2020, Roy’ce Bass, a custody assistant, was arrested on suspicion of engaging in sexual activity with two detainees at the Lynwood lockup. He was charged with four counts of having sex with an adult confined in a detention facility. Two of the charges were linked to a July 2017 encounter in an inmate’s cell, and the other two were tied to a January 2018 incident.

Bass eventually pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 180 days in jail and two years of probation, according to records from the district attorney’s office.

Inmates cannot legally consent to sexual intercourse with deputies under state and federal law.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.