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Ex-deputy constable accused of sex assault targeted women leaving nightclub, chief says

Former deputy Richard Cornejo was arrested Thursday, June 6, 2019, and charged with two counts of aggravated sexual assault and one county of official oppression. Houston police are hoping women who may have been assaulted will come forward.

HOUSTON – Houston police are hoping more women who may have been victimized by Richard Cornejo, 37, will come forward after seeing his picture. 

Cornejo is a former deputy constable with Harris County Precinct 4.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo shared Cornejo's duty photo next to his booking photo on Friday morning, hoping more people may recognize him. Acevedo said Cornejo was known to wear glasses around the time of the assaults, though he was not wearing glasses in the the photos shown Friday.

He was arrested Thursday and charged with sexual assault and official oppression. Investigators said they are aware of two incidents.

Acevedo said Cornejo would wait at nighttime for women to leave the Palacio Latino After Hours Nightclub, located off of North Sam Houston Parkway. Acevedo said one of the alleged victims who came forward is Hispanic and another is white.

Acevedo said it did not appear that Cornejo targeted women of a certain ethnicity, but the Palacios is known to be a largely Hispanic nightclub. 

Acevedo said Cornejo's typical method of operation was to spend time in the parking lot of the club and stop women on traffic violations shortly after they left the parking lot. Cornejo was in uniform and in a marked patrol unit, but Acevedo said the assaults did not happen inside the unit. 

In one case, Cornejo was in uniform and driving a marked patrol vehicle when he found a woman sleeping in a car outside the club.

The DA's Office said Cornejo found a joint in the woman's car and then offered to follow her home, where the victim said the assault happened.

"When an officer commits this kind of conduct, it's already egregious, it's despicable when a man commits sexual assault, but when you add that uniform, it goes from bad to absolutely worse. And so, that's why we want people to step forward," Acevedo said. 

Police are asking other women who may have been assaulted by Cornejo to contact police. Acevedo said it does not matter if a victim is undocumented, adding that there are policies in place to protect undocumented victims.

Cornejo told investigators that the incidents were "consensual." Acevedo said, "You don't get charged with two counts of aggravated sexual assault when you have consensual sex."

VIDEO: Acevedo discusses arrest of former deputy accused of sex assault