Bexar County, Sarah Flood-Baumann
For Emmanuel Galindo and Alejandro Chapa, being a member of the San Antonio Police Department came with significant perks: Comprehensive health insurance, union privileges, paid time off, a pressed navy suit, and the power to coerce women into having sex with them.
It's that last perk that could put the two ex-cops in prison for up to 20 years. On Friday afternoon, a jury found the two men guilty on all three charges against them
: coercing someone into prostitution, taking advantage of their official status to break the law, and sexual assault. The jurors agreed with prosecutors' case: that the former officers convinced women that they were in charge of a covert SAPD program — and were looking to hire women, for $5,000 per day, to act as the girlfriends of undercover officers. Not only did that program not exist, but the men also told "applicants" that they'd have a better shot at getting the job if they slept with them.
Some of the 25 women who heard this spiel gave in, but only after the men told them to take multiple shots of liquor to "test their inebriation levels," according to the victims who testified at trial. One of the women said she attempted suicide after discovering she'd been raped by Galindo, who had pushed her to drink until she blacked out.
Each female victim that testified in court last week said there was one moment in particular that convinced them the program was legit: When the officers flashed them their shiny SAPD badges. This was the only reason the women continued to meet up with the officers for phony job interviews — even when they felt uncomfortable with the program's demands. For Galindo and Chapa, having an SAPD badge proved to be their free pass to commit a handful of criminal offenses.
"He said they were police officers," said Charlie Rose (a pseudonym), referring to Galindo in her Wednesday testimony. "The first thing he did when we met was show me his badge to prove it." In text messages she received from Galindo, he referred to his colleagues as "agents" or "officers," further driving home the perception he was working in an official capacity.
Part of the officer's fake application process asked women to sign a non-disclosure form, warning applicants that they'd face federal prison time if they told anyone about the program. Rose said Galindo carried a gun with him when he came to her apartment for multiple one-on-one interviews. According to victim's testimony, these threats kept the women from rejecting the officer's sexual requests — and telling anyone about the meetings. According to Rose's testimony, Galindo and Chapa both carried guns with them when they met up for interviews.
According to Iris, another female victim who testified under a pseudonym, Galindo wasn't allowed into her apartment until he showed her his badge. He did — and promised that if she participated in these interviews, he'd quickly erase a DWI charge from her record. "And I believed him," she said.
Both Chapa and Galindo claim that they were the ones duped by law enforcement — forced to sign a different non-disclosure form by a federal agent after agreeing to help him recruit women for a covert program. They were just following orders. The men and their attorneys, however, haven't been able to track down this agent.
In his closing arguments, state prosecutor David Lunan said this case didn't just lose the victim's trust in law enforcement, but the entire community's.
"It's important in our society to trust police officers, to believe they work to protect and serve the public," he said Friday. "These are all beliefs these girls grew up with. They were told to trust these men."
But the women's trust in law enforcement appeared to be their downfall.
Or, in Lunan's words: "These women were exploited for trusting the police."
After five hours of deliberation Monday afternoon, the jury sentenced Chapa to six years behind bars and Galindo to 10.