Federal suit filed against city, Covarrubias family

‘Jane Doe’ alleges rape, fear, intimidation, death threats
2012-08-10T10:45:00Z 2012-08-14T17:41:51Z Federal suit filed against city, Covarrubias familyBy Marga K. Cooley/Associate Editor/mcooley@santamariatimes.com Santa Maria Times

Attorneys representing a juvenile police Explorer Scout have filed a federal lawsuit against Santa Maria, the widow of deceased police Officer Alberto Covarrubias Jr., and various members of the city’s Police Department alleging the teenager was raped repeatedly by Covarrubias in January and also faced fear, intimidation and death threats.

Covarrubias was shot and killed by fellow officer Matthew Kline, who is one of many officers implicated in the suit, in the early morning hours of Jan. 28 as supervisors tried to arrest Covarrubias as a result of the alleged sexual relationship with the 17-year-old girl.

The 29-year-old officer was on duty and dismantling a sobriety checkpoint when he was killed after allegedly firing a shot as he struggled to avoid arrest.

The Covarrubias shooting is one of eight officer-involved shootings in northern Santa Barbara County in the last nine months, and it has created a growing divide between many members of the community and the police department.

The 19-page suit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court by Woodland Hills attorneys Terry Goldberg and Bradley Gage, lists five causes of action including a lack of training and supervision rising to the level of deliberate indifference, as well as negligent supervision and sexual harassment.

It includes Gloria Covarrubias, the officer’s widow, as the representative of his estate.

The suit alleges that on Dec. 31, 2011, Covarrubias “embarked on a nefarious scheme to intimidate and rape” the juvenile plaintiff, referred to in the suit as Jane Doe, and that Covarrubias and other defendants acted under the direction of the Police Department and former Police Chief Danny Macagni.

Macagni resigned Friday after being put on administrative leave earlier last week.

Assistant Santa Maria City Attorney Philip Sinco said Thursday that the city has not been served with the complaint, and therefore he has not read it.

“In any case, we are unlikely to have any significant comment to make concerning the allegations in the lawsuit until after substantial discovery has been completed in the case, which could take several months," Sinco said.

The suit alleges that police officers, including Covarrubias, who had just married his second wife, “used the Explorer program as a means to achieve sexual gratification, and used their law enforcement authority to threaten their victims into going along and remaining silent.”

The suit goes on to say that members of the Police Department, including Kline, were aware Covarrubias was engaged in an inappropriate relationship with “Jane,” and that he raped her on a number of occasions.

“Covarrubias told Jane that if she did not sleep with him that he would kill Jane’s boyfriend and her family,” the suit states. “Covarrubias emphasized that as a police officer he would be able to get away with it. Further, he would be protected by his fellow officers and the Santa Maria Police Department.”

The suit charges that Covarrubias was armed with his service weapon each time he threatened “Jane,” and that “even after the city was formally alerted about the sexual molestation of Jane, it failed to act immediately. As a result, Jane was raped before the Department took any action.”

“The Santa Maria Police Department’s failure to intervene in its officers’ inappropriate relationships with Explorers and their knowing failure to prevent officers from using pretense of state employment in such conduct demonstrated a deliberate indifference to the rights of citizens of the United States and gave rise to a reasonably forseeable violation of the rights of Jane Doe,” the suit states, adding that the department’s “concealment of the improper activity of its officers was so entrenched or ingrained ... as to constitute a policy of the Santa Maria Police Department.”

The suit states that as a “result of the negligent manner the investigation was conducted and the arrest of Covarrubias executed, Jane suffered significant emotional distress.”

It seeks an unstated amount of compensation for, among other things, economic and non-economic damages; medical, hospital, ambulance, legal and other expenses; civil penalties; and punitive damages against non-municipal defendants.

Copyright 2015 Santa Maria Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(21) Comments

  1. dipdawg
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    dipdawg - August 15, 2012 8:24 pm
    Im sorry this officer was a tard with a badge, And did not have the guts to face up to the accusations.
  2. Justin Case
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    Justin Case - August 15, 2012 1:34 pm
    Hey MKelly, why is it every time I read a comment section, your silly comments are there? GET A HOBBY!

    Chase butterflys!
  3. MKelly
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    MKelly - August 14, 2012 5:15 pm
    Justin, wasn't I the one that suggested u get a hobby and stay off this for a while? So now u copy what i say on a different mews article. Anyway you win! I can't dumb down enough to want to respond to u everyday! There's a whole world outside of ur parents house. Enjoy you conspiracy theories and negative outlook on life. I hope someday the police officers will find you in need and help u out. You really deserve their help! Lol!
  4. doglover
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    doglover - August 14, 2012 4:54 pm
    If the alleged victim was so intimidated, why didn't she ask for help over her radio, which she carried with her like other explorers. Why did she continue to ride with Covarrubias if she was so fearful. She was so mad because Covarrubias went ahead and married anther girl, so she set him up to get fired. Only sad thing is that her plan went sour. She probably didn't expect suicide by cop as the outcome; not part of her plan. I hope athe jury doesn't believe this wicked liar and doesn't give her a penny. Covarrubias' family should be suing her, not the SMPD. Just as bad is the ambulance-chasing attorney's version of what he thinks happened, obviously to fatten up his wallet. For those that think the city should pay off on the case, it's ultimately going to come out of our (tax-payers) pockets, not the city's pocket. I feel bad for the other explorers and future explorers as well. I would b willing to bet that this program will end, especially for females. Too bad..
  5. Justin Case
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    Justin Case - August 14, 2012 1:21 pm
    Well, this soon to be rich "victim" is "raping" the city of Santa Maria with her frivlious lawsuit!

    Now thats what I call rape!
  6. Justin Case
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    Justin Case - August 14, 2012 1:18 pm
    I heard MKelly was their best "client".

    Hey MKelly, why is it every time I read a comment section, your silly comments are there? GET A HOBBY!

    Chase butterflys!
  7. The Gimlet Eye
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    The Gimlet Eye - August 14, 2012 8:29 am
    She probably figures that it won't go to trial, so she's waiting for an "out of court settlement." Kinda neat.

    SMPD might want to change its policy about the "police explorers" thing, maybe cancel the program outright. It's getting a bit expensive.
  8. MKelly
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    MKelly - August 14, 2012 5:36 am
    Agreed on the false rape charge! She was certainly a consensual player in this. But he was a police officer, and it makes me sick that he engaged in this affair! He brought a black stain on anyone who wears a badge, not just the SMPD! As far as lawsuits, she should sue covarrubias' dad only. He's the VP of the Carnale motorcycle club, which really means motorcycle gang! They have more money than that guys poor wife! Hey Carnales, why don't u at least step up and pay her college tuition from your meth profits?
  9. tiredofthedrama
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    tiredofthedrama - August 14, 2012 12:43 am
    This isn't the first case to be brought to attention between a minor and an adult AFTER the adult married someone else. Didn't something happen a few years back with someone from Fesler or Tunnel (middle school) after the female principal got married the girl told of the relationship, but when it was just the two of them the relationship was no problem. Its sad that the term rape is used so loosely in the description of what happened. To sue the city is crazy to me .. I agree with what others have said, the guy is dead you can't punish the dead. If he was still alive and not a part of the PD he would be facing jail time .. others would not be dragged into the court case, but because someone is seeing dollar signs. SMH.
  10. Blanco
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    Blanco - August 12, 2012 9:59 pm
    The police chief should face criminal charges also, he has made so many bad desitions, not to mentionhe's a racist.
  11. 4everyoung
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    4everyoung - August 12, 2012 2:17 pm
  12. 4everyoung
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    4everyoung - August 12, 2012 2:17 pm
    They need to go after the businesses who take cash only and work without a license. We need the revenues. The street vendors, selling candy, icecream and taco's. The Tienda's and Mini Markets. Santa Maria is going under. If a store or vendor does'nt take my Visa ATM Card, I wont buy anything. The all American City!!!
  13. wazntme
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    wazntme - August 12, 2012 7:09 am
    It is an outrage. this girl knew what she was doing. Rape I don't think so and if that was the case why didn't shy turn him in the first time it happened.
    This was an affair, she was mad because he got married.
  14. John Q Public
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    John Q Public - August 11, 2012 7:50 pm
    My Fellow Santa Marians,

    Your Measure U tax dollars at work!

    Work harder, the City of santa Maria needs more of your tax dollars to make huge settlement payouts on all of these lawsuits. Under Sanctuary Larry, the city is less safe, less financially stable and surely the armpit of the central coast. Imagine our image after this crowd gets done putting their 'footprint' on the city: higher taxes, gang crime, illegals, regular police shootings, unaccountable city leaders, and declining property values.

    My idea: let's form a 'Hall of shame', I say Macagni and Ness should be its founding members!

    Who would you nominate?

    Just saying,


  15. Lorraine
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    Lorraine - August 11, 2012 5:21 pm
    All of this is a tragedy! How can this Jane Doe have a right to even think of sueing anybody? looking at the picture of the police officer involved, he looks about 20 himself. We live in a time when young girls go out of their way to look so much older with an intention of attracting their victims. It is sad, no woman deserves or wants to be hurt. But the man was shot to death, she voluntarily helped to set him up. How can she say they did nothing for her? Why does she have a right to say us as tax payers, the City of Santa Maria, possible the poor wife, for any of this. She should be satified with the loss of his life, the hurt to his family, and the shame she willingly opened a door to. Revenge is the Lord's. to carry this on would only be cancer to her soul....
  16. MeDias
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    MeDias - August 11, 2012 10:01 am
    "he struggled to avoid arrest"? NO! He tried to shoot and kill those Santa Maria Police officers. He was soo racist that he considered him too important to be arrested in this country- so he tried to shoot his way out.
  17. Tinkerbelle
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    Tinkerbelle - August 10, 2012 12:35 pm
    This is an outrage. This girl WILLINGLY had an affair with this officer, then became vindictive when he married another woman. HE is dead, HE cannot defend himself, and she should not get one dime. If anything, she should be sued for her part in helping execute this man before he could have his due process. He was wrong in getting involved with a minor, IF in fact this is true, but at this point it's only a she said, he's dead! Rape, I think not. She should be ashamed of herself and I hope her identity is soon known. Such a travesty.
  18. sm pesident
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    sm pesident - August 09, 2012 10:34 pm
    this sick 'enforcement' feeds off the blood shed. one of their own or not. end of story.
  19. Justin Case
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    Justin Case - August 09, 2012 10:14 pm
    I want to be the first to say:

    I TOLD YOU SO!!!

    Citizens of the City of Santa Maria brace yourselves, this is just one of the many many lawsuits heading our way…work harder and PAY TOUR TAXES, the city will need all the cash they can get…

    And a special thanks to our wonderful SMPD who thought of the brilliant idea of having this “victim” call Covarrubias to coerce a confession (I don’t think he confessed) and giving this “victim“ all the ammunition to soon become a millionaire at the tax payers expense…

    If this case does manage to prevail, this will set a landmark decision and set precedence in which many more lawsuits will be headed our way, just how much will legal fees cost the city of Santa Maria? In the Millions, and that just legal fees! No wonder X Chief Macagni said good bye!!!!

    Thanks again SMPD!

  20. ChiefDannyIsAJoke
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    ChiefDannyIsAJoke - August 09, 2012 8:50 pm
    I guess it's a good thing the brilliant voters of Santa Maria approved Measure U because this is going to cost the city up the wazoo.

    As patently baseless as this frivolous lawsuit is, Miss "Doe" is going to be rolling in the dough. I wonder if she's going to share her "hard earned" cash with any of the brilliant individuals who made the call to arrest the alleged "rapist" on duty, because after all she really should be thanking them for taking out the only other person who knew what really happened and could contradict her story in court.
  21. CRCampos
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    CRCampos - August 09, 2012 8:47 pm
    This female Police Explorer was allegedly having a consensual sexual relationship with the slain officer. Though, technically she was a minor of 17 years, thhat is no justification for the street execution of one of their own, except that he was an expendable Latino "daring to touch oneof their own girls". The police then willfully used her to try and entrap him into a confession. They claimed that they acted so abruptly because they feared he might committ suicide.......duh...so they KILLED him instead. If this wasn't so sad, it would be funny. Thus, we have our own funny, but so deadly "Keystone Kops".

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