Witness claims former police officer wanted sex for leniency

2014-05-22T00:00:00Z 2014-05-22T07:53:51Z Witness claims former police officer wanted sex for leniencyBy Patrick McNamara Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

A Tucson woman testified Wednesday that after former police Officer Benjamin Gaballa arrested her, he drove her to a midtown parking garage where he raped her before taking her to jail.

The woman, whom the Star is not identifying, said Gaballa initially told her he wanted to talk because he might be able to help her get out of jail.

“He said, ‘I can help you, something for something,’” the woman testified in the courtroom of Pima County Superior Court Judge Brenden Griffin.

She said Gaballa parked his car, let her out of the back seat and removed her handcuffs. But instead of talking about her case, she said, “Right away, this officer grabbed me on my breast. I said, ‘what are you doing.’”

She described Gaballa pulling her dress up and assaulting her using a condom.

When he finished, the woman said she ran from Gaballa, who chased her toward the intersection, ultimately putting her in handcuffs again.

She reported the assault to officers at the jail who also contacted Tucson Police.

Gaballa, 23, is accused of two counts of sexual abuse and two counts of sexual assault in connection with the August 2013 incident.

He was fired from TPD days after the incident after officials determined he had falsified a report.

The woman testified Gaballa and another officer had come to the apartment she shared with her boyfriend, where she was arrested for violating a court order to stay away from the boyfriend, and for numerous outstanding warrants.

She testified she did not know she was forbidden from seeing her boyfriend since they had continued to live together and she had not read the order of protection because English is her second language and she has trouble reading it.

After Gaballa placed her under arrest, she said he began to drive her from her north-side apartment toward the Pima County Jail, southwest of downtown. But before they got that far, the woman said Gaballa turned to the east, away from the jail, ending up in a parking garage near Grant Road and Campbell Avenue.

Gaballa’s defense attorney, Michael Storie, questioned the woman’s credibility, noting her story had changed over time.

Using transcripts of interviews, Storie showed how she told police Gaballa suggested she have sex with him in exchange for leniency while still at her apartment, but testified at trial that Gaballa asked for sex while they were in his police car.

The trial continues on Thursday.

Contact reporter Patrick McNamara at 573-4241 or pmcnamara@azstarnet.com. On Twitter @pm929.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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