Federal lawsuit filed against convicted Tulare County sheriff's sergeant, sheriff's department

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Three weeks ago, a jury found 47-year-old former Tulare County sheriff's sergeant Richard Ramirez guilty of multiple domestic violence-related crimes against three victims, including Ramirez's girlfriend from 2011 to 2018.

Attorneys for the woman, who we are not identifying by name, say she was repeatedly assaulted, stalked, intimidated, and abused by Ramirez and that the Tulare County Sheriff's Office "ignored, belittled, or were indifferent to, Plaintiff's reports and requests for assistance."

"She thought she was reporting a crime to a law enforcement agency when in fact they were protecting their own," said the woman's attorney, Bill Schmidt.

Schmidt represents the woman in her federal civil rights lawsuit against Ramirez, Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux, and the department.

RELATED: New details in case of Tulare County Sheriff's Sergeant accused of domestic violence

The lawsuit describes one incident in April of 2019 when an on-duty Ramirez showed up at the woman's workplace and slammed her head with a phone and then intimidated her and her co-workers by waiting outside in his county vehicle.

"She feared for her safety, her daughter's safety, and her family's safety...all previous reports had failed to elicit any disciplinary action, even verbal censure against Ramirez, and had instead, been relayed to Ramirez, who retaliated against Plaintiff by further assaults," the lawsuit says.

Schmidt also says the department's internal investigation into allegations of abuse against Ramirez was mishandled.

"They concluded the internal affairs investigation and didn't forward it to the district attorney's office."

A Visalia Police Department investigation ultimately led to Ramirez's arrest in September of that year.

Now, as the criminal case draws to a conclusion, Schmidt says the civil case against Ramirez and the sheriff's office is just getting started.

He believes his client deserves monetary damages.

But he says she also has altruistic motivations.

"She said, 'I don't want this to happen to anybody else,' and I really think she has a good heart and a good goal in mind," he said.

Ramirez is expected to be sentenced in the criminal case on June 30th.

He faces a little more than six years in prison.

His attorney hopes it's less, citing his decorated career with the department and no previous criminal convictions.

The Tulare County Sheriff's Office released the following statement to Action News:

The allegations against Richard Ramirez are not only incredibly disturbing to Sheriff Boudreaux, they are in complete contrast and opposition to everything the Tulare County Sheriff's Office stands for.

While the Office of the Sheriff is eager for the truth to reveal itself in court in regards to disciplinary actions taken against Ramirez during his employment with the Sheriff's Office, this case is currently in litigation and, unfortunately, details concerning disciplinary or any other kind of personnel action are prohibited by statute from public release.

However, we can disclose that Richard Ramirez was hired with the Tulare County Sheriff's Office on October 25th, 1998 and separated with the County of Tulare on April 1, 2020 with a personnel action pending.

Claims that either Sheriff Boudreaux or any member of the Tulare County Sheriff's Office "covered up" potential crimes or "protected" Ramirez in any way are categorically false.

If you are the victim of domestic abuse, or you know someone who is, there is help available 24/7. In Fresno County, call the Marjaree Mason Center at (559) 233-4357. In all other locations, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233.
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