Friday, November 30, 2007

County psychologist arrested for second time this month for rape


A clinical psychologist for the County of Santa Barbara’s Alcohol Drug and Mental Health Services was arrested yesterday for the second time this month by Sheriff’s Deputies, who say the man coerced a sexual relationship with a patient.
The most recent victim joins a list of three other women, all of whom claim Fernando Cordero, 65, raped them under what sheriff officials call “color of authority.”

Sgt. Erik Raney, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department, said the fourth victim came forward shortly after initial media coverage of Cordero’s first arrest, which occurred on Nov. 9. Since that arrest, Cordero had posted bail and was free.
Raney said Cordero was arrested Thursday at his Orcutt home and booked into county jail for an additional allegation of rape under color of authority.
“In addition to these new allegations, Sheriff’s Detectives learned through a credible source that Dr. Cordero was planning on fleeing the country in an effort to avoid trial,” Raney said. As a result, he said Cordero’s bail was raised to $250,000.
The original victim that tipped detectives off to Cordero’s alleged behavior is a 44-year-old female who is currently in county jail on theft related charges.
Raney said she contacted the jail’s mental health services department and claimed she had been coerced into a sexual relationship with Cordero more than three years ago when she was a patient of his.
At the time of Cordero’s first arrest, Raney said the 44-year-old victim told investigators Cordero threatened to have her put back in jail if she did not comply with his demands.
“According to the victim, she felt she had no choice but to comply, for fear of being sent back to jail,” Raney said in early November. “She told detectives she was raped at the doctor’s office, as well as the victim’s home in Santa Maria.”
The most recent victim also said she was coerced into a sexual relationship with Cordero while she was a patient, and has continued to be victimized over the course of several years.
Raney said Cordero has targeted Hispanic females with past abuse, mental health issues and questionable legal status in the U.S. As a result, he said the victims are generally afraid of reporting Cordero in fear of not being believed, being sent to jail or deported.
Raney said detectives will continue to solicit help from the public and encourage anyone with information regarding the allegations or know of additional victims to call sheriff’s detectives at 934-6170.

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