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A woman who features prominently in the story of how former police officer Anthony Arevalos was allowed back on duty after being accused of sexual assault is talking publicly for the first time.

In an interview with NBC 7 San Diego, the woman provided more details about how police and the District Attorney’s Office investigated her February 2010 complaint — the first known complaint of on-duty sexual misconduct against Arevalos.

I’ve previously reported the basic details of the woman’s complaint. Arevalos arrested her on suspicion of drunk driving in Mission Valley. On the way to jail, she says Arevalos sexually assaulted her in the back of his squad car while wearing latex gloves.

In the interview with NBC, the woman said she’d urged police to immediately collect evidence of sexual assault on the night of the incident, but the department didn’t do so until the next day.

Police told NBC they waited because the woman had been “agitated and belligerent.” Talking about the department’s initial response, assistant Police Chief Boyd Long told NBC, “We believed it was the alcohol talking.”

The woman, who spoke to NBC anonymously, denied being uncooperative.

Police investigated the complaint and recommended criminal charges against Arevalos, but then sent him back to patrol when prosecutors declined to press charges. The woman’s complaint only became the focus of public attention after another woman accused Arevalos of sexually assault, too.

After that second complaint in March last year, detectives unraveled the most serious case of police abuse in the last decade. Prosecutors charged Arevalos with 21 felonies, though none were related to the February 2010 incident.

I’ve previously reported that prosecutors felt the woman had credibility issues. For the first time, the woman told NBC why — because the forensic evidence police eventually collected didn’t match her story.

“They said I wasn’t a credible person because the rape kit came back negative,” the woman said. “They didn’t find any plastic glove remnants.”

Police Chief Bill Lansdowne has previously said he would’ve fired Arevalos if he believed the officer had committed a crime in February 2010. He told NBC that he still backed the quality of the department’s investigation of the complaint.

Lansdowne said any accusation that “evidence was lost or not collected properly is not true.”

In November last year, a jury convicted Arevalos of eight felonies and four misdemeanors. He’s scheduled to be sentenced next month and faces up to 10 and a half years in prison.

You can watch NBC’s story below. For a broader narrative of the Arevalos case and what it says about lagging internal oversight, I recommend reading the big story we published last month in partnership with San Diego Magazine.

Keegan Kyle is a news reporter for voiceofsandiego.org. He writes about public safety and handles the Fact Check Blog. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at keegan.kyle@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5668. You can also find him on Twitter (@keegankyle) and Facebook.

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