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Former Calexico cop pleads in relationship with teen-ager

October 31, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

A former Calexico police officer who married a 16-year-old girl has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of statutory rape in connection with his relationship with the girl.

The officer, Patrick Estrada, resigned from the Police Department after his arrest in April.

Estrada, 24, had been involved with a girl who, when the relationship started, was 15.

The girl, whose identify was not released because she is a minor, was 16 when the two were married in Yuma, prior to Estrada being charged by the District Attorney's Office.

It is legal for a 16-year-old to marry in Arizona as long as one parent approves the marriage.

Deputy District Attorney Deborah Owen, said both parents of the girl supported the relationship and marriage.

Estrada was charged with felony statutory rape and the DA's Office also sought a charge of oral copulation with a minor.

Owen said Estrada admitted to the oral copulation but the girl refused to testify against her husband.

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Owen said she could have used the Superior Court's contempt powers to force the teen to testify, but it would have meant the girl could be sent to juvenile hall for refusing to testify.

Owen said, "I did not want to put her in juvenile hall."

She said while the charge of oral copulation was dropped, Estrada agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor statutory rape.

Along with his resignation from the Calexico police force, Estrada is on probation.

The couple is living in Los Angeles County.

Owen said Estrada can apply to other police departments but she said it will be difficult for him to find work in law enforcement.

"For all intents and purposes he has given up his law enforcement career," she said.

Owen added of his pleading, "It still means what he did was a crime."

Owen credited the Calexico Police Department for its handling of the case and the support the department gave to the DA's Office.

Estrada had been with the Police Department since 1998. Police declined to comment on the matter when contacted Tuesday.

David Muñoz, the Whittier attorney who represented Estrada, said he could not comment on the case until he contacted his client. Muñoz said he might have a comment later today.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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