Trial begins for former San Jose police officer accused of raping woman while on duty

Geoffrey Graves

SAN JOSE (BCN) — The trial began Monday for a former San Jose police officer accused of raping a woman, who testified in Santa Clara County Superior Court.In his opening statement in the trial of 40-year-old Geoffrey Evatt Graves, Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Carlos Vega told the jury that not convicting the defendant would be “illogical and irresponsible.”

Graves’ attorney Kristin Carter, of the Santa Clara Alternate Defender Office, called on the jury to put aside the “disappointment” that Graves had sex while on duty and determine if a rape occurred.

The woman, who is now 36 years old and an undocumented resident who has been in the country for more than 15 years, testified through the help of a Spanish interpreter before Judge Ron Del Pozzo at the Hall of Justice in San Jose.

On Sept. 22, 2013, officers working the graveyard shift responded to a Greendale Way apartment on a report of a domestic disturbance between a husband and wife, Vega said.

The couple and their five children, who at the time ranged between 2 and 16 years old, had attended a relative’s wedding in Napa the day before, the woman said.

The woman said she had about five beers during the party and returned with her family to San Jose late at night.

The husband, who was the designated driver and had nothing to drink at the party, met with the five officers who were outside the residence, Vega said.

The couple, who has been married for almost 21 years, argued over their oldest son, who hadn’t gone to school for several days, the woman said.

One of the officers spoke in Spanish to the husband and wife and determined the couple had only been in a verbal argument with one another, according to Vega.

The wife said she wanted to go to the TownPlace Suites by Marriott hotel, where she used to work as a maid four years before, Vega said.

The woman, who was intoxicated but functional, entered barefoot into the backseat of Graves’ black and white patrol car to the hotel, which was a mile away from the apartment, he said.

Once they reached the hotel a receptionist recognized the woman and booked a room for her, according to Vega.

The woman went to a third floor room, lay on a bed, and attempted to fall asleep, Vega said.

Graves left the hotel and spoke with one of the four other responding officers from their patrol cars at the back of the building, Vega said.

Graves told the other officer that he needed to use the bathroom and went back to the hotel, Vega said.

Graves told the receptionist he needed to see the woman face to face and refused to use a hotel phone to speak with her, according to Vega.

The receptionist gave the defendant access through a secured area and up an elevator to the third floor, but he never used a bathroom at the lobby, Vega said.

Under questioning by Vega, the woman said she was still awake when she heard a knock at the door and answered to find Graves. The woman asked what Graves was doing there and he walked inside the room without her permission.

Graves took off pants, placed his duty belt on a small table and repeatedly called her crazy, the woman testified.

She was in tears as she recounted that he pushed her on the bed and took off her clothes despite her multiple objections.

The woman said she resisted and tried to push Graves away, but he allegedly raped her for about five minutes until calls were made from his police radio.

Graves dressed himself, exited the room and said he would return, but never did, Vega said.

Analysis by the police crime lab showed bodily fluid and sperm were found on Graves’ vest, according to Vega.

The woman testified that she cried herself to sleep and woke up the next morning. Before leaving for home, she went to the lobby where she questioned the receptionist why Graves was let in, and in response the receptionist said because he was a police officer, Vega said.

She didn’t immediately tell anyone what happened out of shame, fear her husband would reject her and the chance of police retaliation, Vega said.

“I was scared for what could happen to me, to my husband, to my family,” the woman said.

The alleged rape is, “something that feels horrible, that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, any woman,” she testified.

She finally spoke about the incident on Oct. 10, when she was pulled over by California Highway Patrol officers on suspicion of DUI and was later found with a blood-alcohol level of 0.18, more than twice the legal limit, according to Vega.

The woman said she was angry with the police and told the CHP officers about the alleged rape, adding it was easier to say something while intoxicated.

She was arrested and later pleaded guilty to a DUI charge, the woman testified.

Graves’ attorney Kristin Carter said Graves and the woman had consensual sex, which was a “brief and impulsive act that showed bad judgment” from both sides.

The woman had flirted with Graves and her mood took a 180-degree turn from the apartment to the hotel, Carter said.

She opened the door for him where they talked outside, invited him in and their conversation turned to her son who was skipping school, according to Carter.

The defendant and woman, “communicated with looks and feelings” before they had consensual sex, Carter said.

Before Graves left, the woman gave him her number and her behavior after the act was not consistent with the victim of an attack, according to Carter.

The woman inquired with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office about a U visa, which crime victims can obtain if they cooperate with an investigation in order to stay in the country, according to Carter.

The woman had testified that she didn’t know she had applied for a U visa, but had heard of the term.

The woman has also filed a civil lawsuit against Graves, the city of San Jose and Marriott hotel for what happened on Sept. 22, 2013, Carter said.

Graves’ main concern was that he would lose his job if he admitted to having consensual sex while on the job, Carter said.

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