VENTURA, Calif. - A former Ventura County Sheriff's Deputy pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges for sexual misconduct with an inmate while working as a guard at the Ventura County Jail.
Leonard Herrera Lopez, 49, of Fillmore pleaded no contest to the misdemeanors charges in court Thursday. The charges stem from what the Ventura County District Attorney's Office referred to as "consensual sexual activity" with an inmate at the jail.
Lopez was arrested in 2019 following a month-long investigation after the female inmate accused him of sexual assault. Lopez was later charged with engaging in "consensual sexual activity with a female inmate" and entering her cell without another employee present, the DA's office said.
Both entering the cell without a staff member who is the same sex as the inmate and sexual conduct with an inmate are against state laws and the sheriff's office policy.
According to the DA's office, Lopez entered the inmate’s cell unaccompanied by another member of the jail staff in the early morning hours of September 6, 2019. He kissed and touched the inmate, which constituted the sexual misconduct with her, the DA's office said. Under state law, inmates cannot legally consent to any sexual activity with jail staff.
The inmate was assigned to a unit that was under the direct supervision of Lopez, segregated from the rest of the jail population.
Lopez was booked into jail and later released after posting bail.
At the time of his arrest, he was placed on administrative leave and removed from active duty while the sheriff's office investigated. On Thursday, the Ventura County District Attorney's Office indicated he was no longer employed by the sheriff's office.
Lopez is due back in court on June 24 where he faces a maximum sentence of 180 days in prison and one year of probation.