Former San Mateo cop accused of sexual assaults on duty arrested

SAN MATEO, Calif. (KGO) -- Police arrested an ex-San Mateo police officer accused of sexually assaulting multiple women while on duty.

Investigators arrested Noah Winchester, 31, at his home near Stockton. He's been booked on 22 counts of felony charges including rape, kidnapping and sexual battery. Prosecutors say the crimes involved five separate victims and occurred between July of 2013 and October of last year.

Winchester is being held on $3 million bail. Winchester has been charged with rape and sexual assault under color of authority.

The allegations against her former officer shocked San Mateo Police Department Chief Susan Manheimer. "We are horrified, saddened and disgusted," she said.

Winchester was an American River College cop in Sacramento until he was transferred to the San Mateo Police Department early last year. "We would never hire anyone were we aware of any serious allegations like this," Manheimer said.

ABC7 News broke this story in May when we learned that Winchester who had by then resigned from the force was being investigated for rape and other sexual attacks while on duty.

In the fall of last year, a woman told Burlingame police she had been attacked in her car by the officer at Coyote Point recreational area.

Burlingame police reported the attack to San Mateo police. "We immediately put the officer on leave, suspended his police powers to protect the community," Manheimer said.

While police launched their own probe, they referred the case to district attorney's investigators and that led to two other alleged victims.

District Attorney investigators then found two other women who claimed they also had been sexually assaulted by Winchester while he was a college cop in 2013.

San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe described how the suspect took advantage of the five reported victims. "While on duty he would make contact with women on the street and would engage in various fondling, rape and others by taking them to secluded places," he said.

Winchester was arrested Thursday morning without incident near his home in Stockton.

San Mateo police have released this statement:

"Earlier today, July 21, 2016, the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office arrested Noah Winchester, a former police officer in several jurisdictions, for a series of felony sexual assault-related charges following an extensive investigation involving multiple victims. The San Mateo Police Department has been aware of the investigation and working closely with the District Attorney's Office since the original discovery of the allegations. As soon as our department was notified of these allegations, San Mateo Police immediately placed him on indefinite leave, while pursuing the investigation.

The San Mateo Police Department treasures our close and trusted relationship with our community, and holds very dearly the strength of support we continue to receive from those whom we are sworn to protect. We are horrified by the news of the recent arrest of this former San Mateo and Los Rios Community College District Police Officer, and want to assure our community and our leaders that this neither reflects nor deflects the dedication to duty and selfless service that our men and women commit themselves to every day on every contact.

Noah Winchester came to us as a lateral police officer in early 2015, with prior law enforcement experience. We were first made aware of criminal allegations regarding the conduct of Winchester, at that time a San Mateo Police Officer, on the morning of October 20, 2015. The allegations were related to an incident that occurred the previous night, October 19, 2015 beginning at about 10 PM. Based on the severity of the allegations we immediately placed Winchester on indefinite leave before his next work shift, and turned the criminal portion of the investigation over to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office. San Mateo Police opened an administrative investigation into Winchester's conduct in regards to department policy and procedures, while cooperating fully with the criminal investigation.

Winchester was employed as a San Mateo Police Officer for approximately 10 months at the time the first allegations were made on October 19, 2015. The San Mateo Police Department took immediate action to protect the community and suspend Winchester's police powers. Additional alleged acts were uncovered during the District Attorney's investigation in both San Mateo and Sacramento Counties. The incidents alleged in 2013 were not discovered until that time. While both investigations were still ongoing, Winchester resigned from the San Mateo Police Department in February of 2016.

While we respect the now former officer's right to due process under the law and the presumption that he is innocent until proven guilty, we as a department cannot help but be appalled by the nature of these allegations. This alleged conduct in no way reflects the core values of this department nor our profession as a whole. The San Mateo Police Department is driven to ensuring excellence in service through strength of character and commitment to compassionate, constitutional, ethical, and just policing. These allegations, if proven true, are a disgrace and wholly disavowed by this department and this city."

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