TORRANCE (CNS) - A veteran Los Angeles police officer was arrested today on charges of sexually assaulting the 13-year-old daughter of a friend in her Torrance home, authorities said.
Kenneth Collard, 51, of Riverside is facing three counts of committing a lewd act on a child and one count of sexual penetration by a foreign object, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. The alleged sexual assault took place last month, according to the DA's office, which reported that he faces a maximum sentence of 32 years in state prison if convicted as charged. Collard, who has been with the LAPD for more than 22 years, was taken into custody about 9 a.m. by Torrance police, the lead investigating agency in the case, on an arrest warrant issued Monday.
``On April 4, Collard was staying at a friend's house in Torrance. During the middle of the night, he allegedly entered the victim's bedroom and is accused of sexually assaulting her,'' according to a statement released by the DA's office. Collard was released from custody about 4 p.m. after posting $400,000 bail, according to sheriff's inmate records.
An arraignment date has not yet been set. An LAPD spokesman said Collard was placed on paid administrative leave when the investigation began. Collard was previously in the news nearly nine years ago, when he was involved in the fatal shooting of a suspect while on duty in West Los Angeles.
Late on the night of July 6, 2009, Collard was in full uniform driving a plain police car when he heard a radio call of a robbery and attempted carjacking by two suspects, at least one of them armed with a gun, according to an LAPD statement issued two days later. As he was driving east in the 11300 block of Iowa Avenue, he saw two men matching the description of the suspects, ``and one of them was fighting with another man, as a woman stood nearby,'' the LAPD reported then.
The man and woman were later determined to be victims of an attempt robbery, according to the LAPD, which reported that Collard stopped and got out of his car and identified himself as an LAPD officer. One of the suspects immediately ran from the location, but the second suspect, who had been fighting with the other man when Collard drove up, ``advanced towards the officer with an object in his hand,'' prompting Collard to open fire, according to the LAPD. Pedro Fernandez, a 24-year-old Tarzana resident, died at the scene, and the other suspect was subsequently arrested. The union representing thousands of LAPD officers and other department personnel issued a statement saying the officer should face stiff penalties if the charges are proven.
``We are sickened by the repugnant allegations made against this officer, and if they are true he should be prosecuted as forcefully as possible,'' according to the Los Angeles Police Protective League. ``As police officers, we are sworn to protect the innocent, not to exploit them. There is absolutely no room in law enforcement or society for anyone who commits such acts, especially on a child."