Woman says she was groped by Orange police officer, files lawsuit

ORANGE, New Jersey (WABC) -- A New Jersey woman says a traffic stop turned into something much scarier.

She says the Orange police officer who stopped her groped her.

He was charged, but the woman says that's not enough.

"I couldn't do anything because the only thing I was thinking is that he got a gun on him and he's drunk," the woman said.

Paralyzed with fear, she begged him to stop, intimidated by his gun and badge.

"Then he put his whole body and started touching me in my personal parts my breasts and he wanted me to follow him to his home," she said.

It was a traffic stop that took a terrifying turn according to this mother of three when she came face to face with Orange Police Officer Ricardo Arias Vasquez.

Still traumatized, she asked Eyewitness News to conceal her identity. But what happened next she says she'll never forget; despite pleas for him to stop she says Vasquez kept touching her before eventually letting her go without a ticket.

"I was in shock, I was so in shock," the woman said. "I was like, 'Oh no, please, just let me go. I don't feel comfortable."

When the victim went to the Orange Police Department to file a report on Vasquez she says she was met with skepticism and threats.

"I was very scared because the supervisor kept saying that he was going to put me in jail, and I was like, 'What am I getting into, maybe I shouldn't have made the complaint," she said.

Following a lengthy investigation, Vasquez was charged with criminal sexual contact and witness tampering, to which he later made a plea deal and received probation.

Now the victim and her attorneys have filed a civil case against Vasquez, the Orange Police Department, and the city.

"I don't think that this type of behavior is rampant, certainly not, but law enforcement has to know that they have to honor the oath that they took," said Joel Silberman, an attorney.

"As long as we have that culture of the blue wall of silence where officers are covering for each other, particularly a supervisor, we can never have meaningful police reform," said Aymen A. Aboushi, an attorney.

"You have no idea how many times I've regretted this, because maybe I should've stayed quiet," the woman said. "All I want is justice because it's not fair, everything that I've been through with my kids, my three kids, and they didn't do anything."

Although Vasquez is no longer employed with the Orange Police Department, the victim and her attorneys say they want to ensure all complaints made against officers there go through the proper channels with Internal Affairs and are thoroughly investigated.
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