Jury selection in Swaim trial resumes Tuesday
Jury selection in the trial against a former high-ranking California Highway Patrol officer resumed Tuesday in El Centro.
John Swaim, who held the rank of lieutenant and was in charge of the agency's Winterhaven office before being fired, faces four counts in Imperial County Superior Court of sexually victimizing two underage girls more than a decade ago.
Swaim's attorney, Robert A. Espinosa, couldn't say when the jury selection process would be complete, only that it could take about two weeks.
The trial is expected to last four to six weeks, with at least 30 witnesses expected to testify.
In August 2011, two girls — now in their late teens and early 20s — claimed that Swaim had committed acts of sexual misconduct against them more than 10 years ago when they were 7 and 8 years old, and that some had occurred since then.
Swaim was also accused of sexually abusing an 8-year-old child in 1994 but was acquitted. Elias Sanchez, the father of the girl in that 1994 case, says he is hoping for justice now, even though it may come 19 years later.
"This guy has to be taken off the streets," Sanchez said. "Hopefully he gets convicted. I can’t see how he is going to get off this time."
Sanchez, who wants legislators to create a new law — Aarika’s Law — that would make it a felony not to report child molestation, says he plans to attend some of the trial, especially the opening remarks, the verdict and the sentencing. He also plans to attend the days his daughter testifies.
Sanchez’s daughter, Aarika, was Swaim’s stepdaughter at the time and was the first person called to testify against him during his 1995 trial. As she did back then, she will testify about the alleged sexual abuse she experienced.
Espinosa also represented Swaim in the 1995 case,
For more information about Aarika’s Law, go to www.aarikaslaw.org.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.