SAN JOSE -- The woman allegedly raped last fall by an on-duty San Jose police officer is in the country illegally, sources said Wednesday, a revelation that looks certain to strain the already shaky trust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement.

New information also emerged about the evidence against Officer Geoffrey Graves, with a source familiar with the investigation saying the woman's DNA was found on the bulletproof vest of the officer, adding critical detail to a prosecutor's Tuesday statement that "physical evidence" corroborated the rape allegation.

Several sources said the woman, who did not come forward until three weeks after the attack, was especially vulnerable because of her limited English skills and residency status.

"It's a very unfortunate circumstance that this woman is put in this position and possibly taken advantage of by someone sworn to protect and serve," said Jeremy Barousse, a community organizer for the San Jose-based Services Immigrant Rights and Education Network, reacting to the new information.

He noted the allegation has not been definitively proven but said the mere news of a rape charge against Graves, a six-year department veteran, bolsters the fear of authority that leads to crimes going under-reported in the city's most crime-affected areas, where many people are not legal residents.

"It's a step backwards for trust issues after we've worked so closely with the Police Department to break down those barriers," Barousse said.


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Graves is free after posting $100,000 bail and is set to appear in court March 24. He surrendered to authorities Monday after a five-month investigation into the Sept. 22 incident. Graves could not be reached for comment.

Graves' entire law enforcement career has been with San Jose police. He previously served as a volunteer with the Shasta Lake Fire Protection District from 2002 to 2004. He is not listed as one of San Jose's Spanish-speaking officers.

Police Chief Larry Esquivel said Tuesday the charge "tugs at our integrity" but stressed that it was an isolated incident.

According a court document, Graves was one of four officers responding to an argument between the victim and her husband. No arrests were made, but the woman chose to stay at a nearby hotel that night and was escorted by two officers, including Graves.

Investigators said the woman checked into a room, and eventually one of the officers left to answer another police call, but Graves stayed behind. After waiting a short time, police said, Graves returned to the woman's room, overpowered her and "forcibly engaged in sexual intercourse with the victim before leaving the hotel approximately 10 minutes later."

The victim made a report to police on Oct. 13, and they launched an investigation. Four days later, Graves was placed on paid administrative leave.

Barousse said the woman did the "right thing" in the face of potential consequences stemming from her residency status.

A source said police found the woman's DNA on Graves' bulletproof vest, which was seized from him as part of the investigation. The nature of the DNA and the amount of bodily fluid could not have come from mere casual contact, sources said.

Members of the Police Department who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not involved in the investigation continue to be dismayed by the case against Graves. If true, some said, it would demonstrate extraordinary recklessness that strains believability. Others postulated whether the encounter could have been consensual, which could still lead to Graves' termination but would be far less serious.

That idea is ludicrous to LaDoris Cordell, the city's independent police auditor, whose office works regularly with immigrant communities to increase their comfort in dealing with law enforcement.

"It's about someone with a gun and a badge in a position who by uttering words can see you deported," Cordell said. "What are your choices if you're isolated? How in the world can you have a consensual relationship with that?"

This is not the first time San Jose police have been charged with a sexual crime in connection with an undocumented woman.

In 2010, Officer Julio Morales was tried and ultimately acquitted of committing two felonies in 2008, sexual battery and false imprisonment. Prosecutors alleged he fondled the breasts and crotch of an undocumented teenage girl and drove her home against her will.

Unlike the Graves case, there was no physical evidence, turning the trial into a credibility contest between the accuser and Morales.

The woman, dubbed Cecilia "Doe" to protect her privacy, faltered on the stand, giving inconsistent testimony through a Spanish interpreter and dimming the chances of a conviction. Morales testified in his own defense during the trial, withstanding withering cross-examination. The contrast with the victim's nervous and widely varying accounts of what happened impressed jurors.

Graves has been in a battle for his job in the past. In 2011, in the midst of a contentious custody battle with his ex-wife, she obtained an emergency protective order against him after she alleged a violent road encounter with him and voiced fears about her safety. Graves denied the allegations and successfully fought her attempts to obtain a restraining order that would have prevented him from possessing firearms and effectively ended his police career.

Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.