VISTA (CNS) - A Feb. 25 trial date was set Thursday for a San Diego County sheriff's deputy accused of groping and sexually assaulting 16 women he came into contact with while on patrol.
Richard Fischer, 32, was charged eight months ago with assault and battery by an officer, sexual battery and false imprisonment for allegedly groping and sexually assaulting 13 women in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
In August, prosecutors filed five new charges, including assault and battery by an officer and forcible oral copulation, against Fischer, a six-year veteran of the Sheriff's Department. Those charges involve three additional women.
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Prosecutors will move to consolidate the two cases at a hearing Dec. 3. A jury trial is expected to last six to eight weeks.
Fischer -- who remains on unpaid administrative leave -- faces more than 25 years in prison if convicted.
Defense attorney Manny Medrano has said the case boils down to a "he- said-she-said" situation.
A 51-year-old businesswoman testified at the preliminary hearing earlier this month that Fischer first responded to a 911 call at her living facility for people with mental health issues about 6 p.m. Dec. 31, 2016. She said Fischer and his partner told her the matter had been resolved and started to leave.
But Fischer came back in and said "Can I have a hug?" the woman testified.
Since it was New Year's Eve, "I didn't see any harm," the witness testified.
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The mother of three testified that Fischer returned in March 2017, coming into her garage which she used as an office for her business. The woman said Fischer asked to talk privately, told her that he wasn't married and asked for another hug.
"He was flirtatious," the witness testified, saying she told Fischer the hug was not appropriate.
The woman said Fischer returned sometime between March 27 and April 4 of last year as she was getting ready for bed.
The woman said she let Fischer in, and he pushed her onto her bed and forced her to perform a sex act on him.
A 25-year-old woman testified that Fischer rubbed her thighs and put his hand between her legs as she sat in the back of his patrol car in shorts after a drunken driving crash into parked cars in September 2017.
A 46-year-old woman testified that Fischer groped her inside a motel room, where she had gone with her daughter after an argument at home.