Photo: Former Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Fischer in court last year as proceedings began for his sexual assault and harassment of 16 women
By Nélida Tello
Last week, former sheriff’s deputy Richard Fischer was sentenced to 44 months in prison after sexually harassing or assaulting at least 16 women while on duty between 2015 and 2017 in North and East County San Diego.
In September, Fischer took a plea deal that significantly reduced his sentence from 25 years to life to less than four years behind bars. He will be eligible for parole after 22 months, with 16 months of supervision upon release.
As a sheriff’s deputy, Fischer would regularly kiss and grope the women in his custody. He made a habit of paying unwarranted follow-up visits to the homes of women he had been called to assist, sometimes hours or days after the initial incidents, to make sexual advances.
In one case, Fischer went to a hotel in San Marcos where a woman had been relocated with her daughter after being a victim of domestic violence. He asked the woman to speak privately in the restroom and proceeded to grope her. He also received multiple charges for sexually assaulting women while on duty.
In court, one of the victims described the lasting effects of Fischer’s sexual predation, saying, “I have no life. For two years, I’ve lived in fear and constant stress. I’ve become an emotional wreck. It’s gotten so bad, that it’s affected me mentally and physically and is the underlying cause of numerous recent health problems.”
Despite the numerous claims, Fischer’s plea deal reduced the initial charges from 20 to merely seven, dismissing the sexual assault and battery charges completely, even though all of the complaints against him were of a sexual nature. Instead he was charged with four felony counts of assault under color of authority (based on his privilege as a police officer), two misdemeanor counts of assault under color of authority, and one misdemeanor count of false imprisonment.
The Superior Court Judge Daniel Goldstein also refused to register Fischer as a sex offender as part of his sentence, saying that his risk of re-offending was low and citing a psychological evaluation which claimed his crimes against women were due to “an emotional motive structured around power.”
While the psychologist’s assessment of Fischer could be applied to virtually every police officer, what is clear is that it is being used to soften the case against him and puts forward the narrative that his removal from the force will prevent him from abusing women in the future.
Fischer used his position of authority as a police officer to abuse women for his own sexual gratification. In some cases, he threatened them with arrest; in others he targeted women who were the victims of domestic abuse or other crimes. As a footsoldier of the ruling class, he deliberately capitalized on their fear for his own ends time and time again, further motivated by the power it gave him, a small reflection of the power the bourgeoisie lords over the masses.
Bourgeois courts did everything in their power to let Fischer off with a lighter sentence, while still maintaining the appearance of punishing him. Although no amount of jail time is capable of reversing his vile anti-woman crimes and attitudes, his sentence demonstrates that the “justice” system is not blind, nor does it treat everyone the same. It is an appendage of the state which defends the ruling class, which he served dutifully.
Fischer’s sentence is no justice to the women who endured his sexual harassment and assault; he deserves the fury of their righteous anger.