Two Los Angeles Police Officers Plead Not Guilty to Alleged On-Duty Sexual Assaults of Four Women

Los Angeles Policemen Arrested For Sexually Assaulting Four Suspects
Nick Ut/AP

updated 02/19/2016 AT 11:00 AM EST

originally published 02/18/2016 AT 11:25 PM EST

Two Los Angeles policemen were arrested Wednesday on multiple sexual assault counts stemming from years-old allegations from four women who claim the officers forced them to perform sexual favors by threatening to arrest them, PEOPLE confirms.

Chief Charlie Beck of the Los Angeles Police Department told reporters during a Wednesday press conference that the charges against Officers James Nichols, 44, and Luis Valenzuela, 43, capped an exhaustive investigation that first began in 2013.

Both men have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them and are scheduled to appear in court for a hearing on March 16.

Beck says the two men were suspended without pay soon after their accusers came forward.

Nichols and Valenzuela remain in custody on $3.7 million bail on charges of sexual assault, forcible rape, rape under color of authority, oral copulation under color of authority and oral copulation by force.

Additionally, court records indicate Valenzuela also faces an assault with a firearm charge for reportedly brandishing a gun during an encounter with one of his alleged victims.

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They face life behind bars if convicted, according to the chief.

Beck said during Wednesday's press conference that most of the officers' offenses were committed while they were on duty, working as partners for the Hollywood division's narcotics unit.

The alleged assaults occurred between 2008 and 2011, Beck said.

"These two officers have disgraced themselves," Beck told a crush of reporters. "They have disgraced this badge and they have disgraced their oath of office… I am extremely troubled by what they have done."

Neither officer could be reached for comment Thursday. Information about their defense attorneys was not immediately available.

Beck said Nichols and Valenzuela found drugs on some of their victims and said they would detain the women if they didn't comply with their sexual demands. At least one of the females served as a confidential informant, according to court records.

"It's a violation of the public trust," said Beck. "That's what makes it so horrific."
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