By Craig Kapitan -
|Officer Craig Nash, who was arrested in |
connection with a sexual assault.
Attorneys for Craig Nash, 39, had asked state District Judge Lori Valenzuela for deferred adjudication probation during the brief sentencing hearing, pointing out that he otherwise had been commended for his service during his six years with the department.
Prosecutors sought the maximum one-year sentence for the official oppression charge, which is a Class A misdemeanor.
As part of a plea agreement, Nash waived an indictment last month and pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor. In exchange, prosecutors agreed not to pursue a felony charge of sexual assault by a police officer, which had a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Nash also agreed to never again seek work as a police officer in Texas. Police Chief William McManus had indefinitely suspended Nash — the equivalent of firing him — last March and said the accusation had arrived as “a hard slap to the face” of other officers.
“Officers should be held to a higher standard,” prosecutor Trey Banack said Tuesday of his request for jail time. “A police officer who is a criminal does not deserve mercy from the system he serves to protect.”
Nash was arrested last February after the victim — currently serving time in a male state jail facility for prostitution — reported that she had just been held captive and raped by the officer.
She had been picked up by Nash at Guadalupe and Zarzamora streets early that morning and handcuffed in the back of the patrol car, she told police. She then was then told to lie down as Nash drove to an unknown location, where she was forced to commit multiple sex acts, she reported.
DNA taken from a rape kit later linked Nash to the complainant, according to court records. The woman picked Nash out in a police lineup and GPS tracking of his patrol unit was consistent with what she said, documents state.
Two days after the officer's arrest, a second person came forward to say he had also been raped by the officer in 2008. As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors won't pursue the second allegation, according to court documents.
Prosecutors opted to pursue the misdemeanor charge against Nash instead of the felony as they began looking ahead to trial and contemplating “additional issues we'd have to deal with,” said Adriana Biggs, chief of the district attorney's white-collar crimes division. She declined to elaborate.
Unlike sexual assault, consent isn't an issue for an officer to be charged with official oppression. Prosecutors only have to show that an officer had sex with somebody in custody.
Outside the courtroom, defense attorney Alan Brown wouldn't say if he had been prepared to argue that sex between his client and the accuser was consensual, saying only: “We don't agree to the elements of sexual assault. We don't agree that happened.”
Nash had been a good officer and good father to six children and probation seemed appropriate, Brown said.
“He had been officer of the month a couple times,” Brown said, adding that Nash had been recognized for saving a woman from a fire, among other commendations. “He had a lot of heroic acts.”