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Former officer will face 19 counts

Prosecution decides to drop one felony imprisonment charge because of a lack of evidence.

September 01, 2010|By Britney Barnes, britney.barnes@latimes.com

The preliminary hearing for a former Huntington Beach police officer came to a close Thursday afternoon with the judge upholding 19 of the 20 felony charges, including rape and sodomy.

Superior Court Judge Richard J. Beacom agreed to move forward with the charges against James Roberts III, 34, after hearing testimony from Robert's ex-wife and investigators from the Orange County Sheriff's Department and Orange County district attorney's office during the three-day preliminary hearing at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

A preliminary hearing is where prosecutors present evidence to a judge, who rules if the case is strong enough to go to trial.

Roberts is charged with alleged acts against his wife, an alleged mistress and another man while serving as an officer with the Police Department. The Independent is not identifying the women because they are possible victims of sexual assault.

He pleaded not guilty Feb. 26 to rape, forcible sodomy, false imprisonment by violence or deceit, criminal threats, domestic battery, aggravated assault, dissuading a witness and vandalism.

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Roberts faces a maximum sentence of about 23 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Cyril Yu decided not to go forward Thursday with one of the seven felony charges of false imprisonment. The testimony presented didn't include enough specific details relating to the charge to move forward with it, Yu said.

Defense attorney John Barnett asked the judge to consider whether the rape charge against Roberts' ex-wife was credible after hearing her testimony. Barnett presented a number of text messages, e-mails and voicemails that showed she maintained, and pursued, a sexual relationship with him after he allegedly raped her.

"I suggest to the court that you shouldn't believe her, and he should not have to stand trial," Barnett told the judge.

Roberts and his ex-wife were trying to work on their relationship at the time, and it's not surprising that there was contact going on between them, Yu said.

"The fact that that took place doesn't eliminate the fact that he raped her," he said. "That shouldn't affect her credibility as a whole."

Barnett completed his cross examination of the ex-wife by questioning her on a civil lawsuit she had brought against the city of Huntington Beach. The lawsuit alleged the city covered up her husband's alleged abuse and allowed it to continue.

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