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Roberts pleads not guilty

Former Huntington Beach police officer faces up to 23 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

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

A former Huntington Beach police officer pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 20 felony charges, including rape and sodomy.

James Roberts III, 34, is charged with alleged acts against his wife and an alleged mistress while serving as an HBPD officer.

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

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

Superior Court Judge Richard J. Beacom agreed to move forward with the charges after a nearly three-day preliminary hearing in August where Robert's ex-wife and investigators from the Orange County Sheriff's Department and Orange County district attorney's office testified.

Robert's former wife testified in the preliminary hearing about an alleged pattern of domestic violence he allegedly committed against her from June 2007 to March 2008.

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The Independent is not identifying Roberts' ex-wife because she is a possible victim of sexual assault.

The ex-wife spoke about a number of physical confrontations with Roberts, including one over her texting other people.

She previously testified that she locked herself in the guest room. She was holding the door handle and using her body to brace the door shut when Roberts allegedly broke open the door during one incident.

The force knocked her down, with the door hitting her in the side of the face, she alleged.

She said she tried to flee to their son's room, but couldn't get the door closed fast enough. Roberts allegedly grabbed her by her hair while holding her with her back against the wall, she has said.

He ripped her clothes off before allegedly raping her on the floor of their son's room, she previously testified.

"He told me he was going to get me pregnant," she said during the preliminary hearing. "That we were going to be a family again."

Defense Atty. John Barnett cast suspicions on the testimony the ex-wife gave, highlighting a number of text messages and e-mails she allegedly sent to Roberts during the time that appeared to show she wanted to re-establish a relationship, including a sexual one.

Barnett also brought forward a photograph of the ex-wife with a bruise on the back of her left arm. The photo was given to the Orange County Sheriff's Department as evidence of domestic violence.

It showed a bruise on the woman's left arm — a contradiction to her previous testimony, Barnett pointed out.

Roberts was arrested in September 2009 and put on administrative leave until he was fired April 15. He collected a full paycheck of $7,275 a month during the more than six-month investigation.

Robert's ex-wife and alleged mistress have also filed separate lawsuits against the city. They accuse officials of conspiring to allow the alleged abuse to continue by ignoring and covering it up.

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