One cop accused of sexual assault still in jail, another out on bond

May 13, 2011

by Tony Arnold and Jennifer Brandel

(Photos courtesy of the Cook County Sheriff's Office)
Chicago police officers Juan Vasquez, left, and Paul Clavijo both face charges relating to an alleged sexual assault.

A Cook County judge on Thursday set bonds of $500,000 each for two Chicago police officers charged with sexually assaulting a woman in March.

Paul Clavijo and Juan Vasquez, both 38, allegedly assaulted a 22-year-old woman after picking her up near the intersection of Addison and Sheffield around 2 a.m. March 30. Prosecutors say the officers drove her to a store to buy alcohol, and while Vasquez was in the store, Clavijo had sex with her in their marked police vehicle. They then allegedly drove her to her home in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood, out of their police district, played strip poker with her and had sex with her again.

Prosecutors said the victim ran out of the apartment and pounded on neighbors' doors and called 911. She was taken to the hospital where her blood alcohol level was found to be .380.

Prosecutors also say part of a police uniform and a cell phone belonging to Vasquez were taken from her apartment.

One of the woman’s lawyers, Jon Loevy, said these items were left behind by fleeing police because, “It wasn’t a game. It wasn’t a consensual encounter. It was a sexual attack.”

At a news conference Thursday, Loevy told reporters, “These are on duty police officers; they were armed with guns. And she was a young woman who was not in a situation where she had choice.”

At a separate news conference Thursday after the bond hearing, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said the victim's blood alcohol level was so high, she was unable to give consent.

But attorneys for both defendants dispute that. Jed Stone, who is representing Paul Clavijo, said the sex was consensual, not criminal.

"Paul Clavijo is not a rapist and shouldn't be thought of as a rapist," Stone told reporters after Thursday's bond hearing.

Both officers are facing a combination of charges that include criminal sexual assault and official misconduct.

"This was not a criminal incident," said Dan Herbert, the attorney for Vasquez. "Were there some bad decisions made? Absolutely."

To that point, the woman’s attorney Jon Loevy countered, “That’s an outrageous way to try to spin this.”  

The victim and her legal team have not yet filed a lawsuit. They say they’re hopeful that the criminal justice system will work and that justice will be swift.

Clavijo is also charged in a second case of criminal sexual misconduct, stemming from a March 10 incident where he allegedly gave a 26-year-old woman a ride home from a bus stop near Wrigley Field, then sexually assaulted her on her bed, according to the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.

Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hillard said Thursday the officers remain stripped of their police powers.

A statement from the police department said the alleged actions of those officers infuriates the thousands of other officers on the force and it won't tolerate anyone who disgraces the badge by violating the law.