SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A San Diego police officer on the force since 2010 is facing the possibility of termination and criminal charges after four women have alleged he inappropriately touched them during cursory pat-downs.
This investigation began late last December, when a woman who had been searched by this officer, identified by sources as Chris Hays of Rancho Bernardo, came forward with concerns that Hays had sexually assaulted her during the search.
"We backtracked and looked into other stops (this officer) had made. With three other victims we interviewed, we feel the officer inappropriately searched somebody, and there was a sexual battery," police chief William Landsdowne told CBS News 8.
The police department handed the results of their investigation over to the district attorney's office, which confirms it is investigating San Diego police officer Chris Hays.
Hays has served on the police force for the past four years, assigned to the Mid-City Division. The 30-year-old former Marine corporal and married father of two young children had been hailed as a hero last year by the Burn Institute for saving a woman from a building on fire.
He's now receiving attention for a much different reason -- allegedly violating proper procedures and protocol in carrying out body searches on these four women.
"There is an approved process imposed on how you can search somebody. In this case we believe that, and there are not witnesses to this, that he inappropriately touched these women and touched these women in places he should not have," Lansdowne said.
With no witnesses, this investigation is made all the more difficult.
"This case is being investigated and it will be prosecuted if the District Attorney decides to issue this case," Landsdowne added.
Hays remains on paid leave pending the outcome of the criminal investigation and the police department's internal investigation.