It was back in September 2015 that reports surfaced of one San Francisco Police Department officer accused of rape and another who allegedly compromised the investigation. But it wasn't until yesterday that the alleged rapist was arrested, after the officer remained on unpaid leave but in the SFPD's employ for the past seven months.
News of the alleged rape began to trickle out last fall, about three weeks after a Sunset District woman went to San Francisco General Hospital for treatment of injuries from a sexual assault.
Though she refused to talk to officers while at the hospital, two days later, she told them what had happened and identified the suspect as an officer at Taraval Station, since named by SFPD as Officer Jason Lai.
According to a September SFPD search warrant in the case, Lai and the victim drank heavily at the woman’s house, then the pair then went to the woman’s bedroom, where she says they had sex despite her saying “no I don’t want to.”
In the warrant, Lai reportedly admitted to spending the evening with the woman, but says that he was "hammered" and doesn't remember any details of the night.
The Ex reports that a DNA sample was taken from Lai even though "A rape kit was not taken from the woman...since she went to San Francisco General Hospital more than 97 hours after the incident."
"A fellow officer at the Taraval Station and friend of the accused [identified Wednesday by the Chron as former SFPD Lieutenant Curtis Liu], compromised the investigation" according to the warrant, which sought to seize Liu's cell phone. (Both Lai's and Liu's cell phones were eventually seized, the Ex reports.) Liu “intentionally interfered with a felony sexual assault investigation both by lying to the officers investigating the incident and by contacting the suspect directly to inform him of the progress of the investigation," the warrant read.
And that was what I wrote about it in September. I've wondered what was up with the case many times since, and have often asked, with one SFPD spokesperson saying "if I told you anything I'd get in so much trouble" and another saying "when we can tell you anything, you'll know."
So I guess we all got to know Wednesday afternoon, when SFPD sent out a press release saying that Lai had finally been arrested.
According to the SFPD release, following an Internal Affairs probe "the District Attorney’s Office reviewed the facts of this case and Internal Affairs investigators sought an arrest warrant for" for Lai. However, "there was insufficient evidence for a sexual assault charge."
There was, SFPD says, probable cause to arrest Lai "for violations related to use and access to confidential criminal offender information and motor vehicle records."
It's unclear if these allegations are related to the sexual assault, or are completely separate. A call to SFPD for clarification of that detail was not returned at publication time.
SFPD also acknowledges the investigation into Liu's behavior, saying that "allegations surfaced that a second sworn member of the Department had engaged in conduct that interfered with the investigation. This investigation is still open and on-going, however, this member has since separated from the Department."
According to the Chron, Liu "said he had called Lai as a joke because he thought the name was a coincidence, but according to investigators, he then went on to lie to his superior officers about contacting him and led them to believe he had made the proper notifications to start an investigation."
Those actions, according to court records, "not only delayed the investigation by a day but 'could have assisted (the officer) in destroying and disposing of crucial evidence in this investigation.'"
Lai, an SF resident, "was placed on unpaid administrative leave during the investigation and remains on unpaid leave to this day," according to the SFPD. Previous to the leave, he was making $111,000 a year, SF Weekly reports.
Following his arrest Wednesday, Lai "was charged with two misdemeanor counts of Unlawful Possession of Local Criminal Offender History Information and 4 misdemeanor counts of Misuse of Confidential Department of Motor Vehicles Information," according to the SFPD. He was booked into San Francisco County Jail, then released on $18,000 bond. He is expected to return to court in May.
Previously: SFPD Remains Tight-Lipped After Taraval Station Officer Is Accused Of Rape, Fellow Cop Accused Of Cover-Up