Officer Oscar Robles is charged with 12 felony counts in violent sexual assaults of two women
By Reggie Ellis
WOODLAKE – On a day when the nation remembers the brave officers who sacrificed their lives to save civilians from terrorist attacks, the Woodlake Police Department discovered one of their own had allegedly terrorized the citizens he had sworn to protect.
On Sept. 11, a Tulare County Sheriff’s Deputy was patrolling the Visalia area when he came across a man and a woman walking down the road. The deputy stopped to see if they were ok and offered to give them a ride back to their home in Woodlake. While driving them home, the deputy struck up a conversation with the couple and built a rapport and trust with them. As they were talking, the woman asked how she could file a complaint on a Woodlake Police office who she claims sexually assaulted her.
“It really happened by happenstance that the deputy came across them,” Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said at a press conference on Sept. 14.
At that point, investigators with the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office Crimes Against Persons Unit responded and took over the investigation. Investigators interviewed numerous people during the investigation and discovered another victim, who said she’d been sexually-assaulted by that same Woodlake Police Officer, identified as 26-year-old Oscar Antonio Robles of Visalia. The victims do not know each other but the crimes were very similar. Boudreaux said the victims claimed Robles was in uniform during the commission of some of these crimes and used his authority to intimidate them and threaten them.
“We will work quickly to pursue any officer if they so choose to tarnish the badge and our hearts go out to the victims,” Boudreaux said.
Tulare County Sheriff’s Detectives arrested Robles on Sept. 13. At a press conference announcing the arrest two days later, Woodlake Police Chief Mike Marquez said he and his entire department were shocked by the allegations but were “proceeding forward.” Robles was hired by the Woodlake Police Department in May 2014. Less than a year later, he was selected by department as their Officer of the Year, an award that Marquez personally presented at the Knights of Columbus’ annual Community Services Recognition Dinner. Robles was credited for getting a confession in a case involved an abused toddler and for solving a $450,000 arson case.
“This was a shock, not only to law enforcement, but to the citizens of Woodlake,” Marquez said.
After being notified of the allegations, Marquez asked the Sheriff’s Department to conduct the criminal investigation and the Visalia Police Department to conduct the Internal Affairs investigation. While the Sheriff’s Department investigates the crimes allegedly committed by the office, Visalia Police Chief Jason Salazar said his department’s investigation will look at whether the Woodlake Police Department followed policies and procedures regarding Robles.
“The actions of one bad cop impacts us all,” Salazar said. “We take this case aggressively and make sure justice can be done.”
After deputies interviewed Robles at the Orosi Substation, Boudreaux said he reached out to Kings County Sheriff David Robinson to request that Robles be held in the Kings County Jail for his own protection.
“There are probably people he put in the Tulare County Jail so we moved him for his own protection,” Boudreaux said.
On Sept. 17, District Attorney Tim Ward announced a dozen criminal charges against Robles for two sexual assaults in April of 2017 and January of 2018. Robles is charged with two counts of assault by a public officer, two counts of sexual penetration by foreign object by means of threatening to use the authority of a public office, kidnap for oral copulation, assault with intent to commit oral copulation during the commission of a first degree burglary, sexual battery by restraint, false imprisonment, attempted oral copulation under the color of authority, dissuading a witness, oral copulation under color of authority, and rape by threat to arrest. Each of the twelve counts is a felony. If convicted on all counts, Robles faces life in prison.
“Our office will work diligently to secure justice for the victims who bravely came forward, and we stand resolute to assist others who may,” said District Attorney Ward.
Boudreaux said it is likely there are other victims in this case and that the Sheriff’s Department, Woodlake Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office are ready to help them in any way they can.
“We are here for the victims,” Boudreaux said. “Oscar Robles is in our custody and he can no longer do you any harm.”
The District Attorney’s Victim Services Division serves all victims of crime. For resources and other assistance, call 559-636-5471.
Ward said his office is also looking into 20 pending cases in which Robles was involved.