The trial for a former Phoenix police officer accused of sexually assaulting three women while on duty several years ago began on Wednesday, a Maricopa County Superior Court official confirmed for The Arizona Republic.
Opening statements began Wednesday afternoon and the next trial date was scheduled for 10:30 am May 3, court spokesperson Vincent Funari told The Republic on Thursday.
A grand jury indicted Sean Pena on three counts of sexual assault, two counts of sexual abuse and two counts of sexual conduct as a peace officer. He entered into a not guilty plea through his lawyer, Jess Lorona, according to court documents.
Lorona did not respond to a request for comment immediately on Thursday.
One woman claimed Pena raped her in August 2018 while she was handcuffed in the back of his patrol vehicle, according to a probable cause statement. A rape kit was performed, but Pena’s DNA was not detected on the swabs, the statement said.
Another woman, identified as Krystofer Lee, claimed she was handcuffed after a welfare check, placed in Pena’s vehicle and ultimately molested and raped by him in June 2019, according to court documents.
“I trusted them at one point, now I can’t trust them at all,” Lee said about how the experience changed the way she viewed police during a news conference in December 2020. “You’re supposed to protect and serve, and that was not protecting or serving.”
A third woman, Lisa Gutierrez, claimed Pena in August 2019 sexually assaulted her twice in the same day after she called Phoenix police for an incident involving a family friend, according to court documents.
Both Lee and Gutierrez filed separate lawsuits against the city of Phoenix, and they were each awarded $425,000 settlements in 2021.
Pena, who was hired by the Phoenix Police Department in July 2017, was placed on administrative leave in September 2019 and was ultimately fired in July 2020.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Trial begins for ex-Phoenix police officer accused of sexual assault