PHOENIX — The criminal trial against a former Phoenix police officer accused of sexually assaulting three women he met on the job started Wednesday afternoon.
The former police officer, Sean Pena, had worked for the Phoenix Police Department for about three years when he was accused and fired. He now faces multiple felonies related to the sexual assault allegations.
The sexual assault allegations date back to 2018. One woman reported Pena forced her to have sex with him in his patrol car while she was handcuffed in August that year. Two other victims came forward in 2019.
The women are expected to take the stand during this trial, the first testifying on Wednesday after opening arguments.
That woman remembered then Officer Pena responding to her home after she called about an incident at her house. She said Pena later returned and assaulted her.
"And I said no, no, no," the woman told the jury. "I didn't want it to happen. But how do you say no to the cops?"
Pena was placed on administrative duty in November 2019 after allegations surfaced. He was fired in July 2020 after the county attorney’s office filed charges in all three cases. He’s pled not guilty to the charges.
In court, his defense attorney said the allegations are out of character.
"Sean became a cop to help people," his attorney told the jury. "It’s something he wanted to do for a long time. He loved it - loved it. He didn’t become a cop to hurt women. But to help women."
Two of the women who accused Pena of assault filed lawsuits against the City of Phoenix. Both were paid $425,000 each in settlements with the City in 2021.
Pena is facing seven felony charges including sexual assault, sexual abuse, and unlawful sexual conduct by a peace officer.
His trial is expected to continue into May.
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