BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Testimony began Wednesday regarding allegations made by four women who say a former sheriff’s deputy engaged in behavior including inappropriate touching and stalking, and holding one of them against her will.

Michael Clark, 31 at the time, was arrested in October 2019 when a woman came forward to report he forced himself on her, kissing and groping her, after offering her a ride home in his patrol vehicle.

Three other women also reported encounters with Clark that made them uncomfortable.

Clark is charged with multiple felonies in two cases.

His attorney, Kyle J. Humphrey, suggested through cross-examination Clark simply flirted and made passes at the women, noting one of them gave Clark her number.

Humphrey also noted three of the women filed lawsuits. He asked an investigator if he questioned the alleged victims about how much money they sought. The investigator said he hadn’t.

The county settled the suits for a total of $290,000.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Raymundo Martinez, the first witness called by prosecutor Brad Taconi during Tuesday’s preliminary hearing, said two of the women worked at a Fastrip. Both reported Clark made sexual remarks and wrote inappropriate comments on receipts during his frequent stops.

The Fastrip is located about 2 miles from sheriff’s headquarters.

One woman said Clark touched her without her permission, Martinez said. Another said she took a nap on the floor behind the register during a graveyard shift and woke to find Clark lying next to her, his face inches from hers, the detective said.

The woman said she told Clark he shouldn’t be there and he acted like it was funny, Martinez said.

The fourth woman was arrested during a probation search. She said Clark took her to a patrol vehicle where he conducted multiple pat-downs, repeatedly groping her, Martinez said.

“She was upset and she mentioned that she felt violated,” the detective said.

While in jail, she called her fiance and told him what had happened. Martinez said that conversation, as will all jail calls, was recorded and recovered.

During cross-examination, Martinez said there were no witnesses to what happened between the arrested woman and Clark, and he said he didn’t question other deputies who were present at the woman’s home.

Regarding the alleged Fastrip victims, Martinez said he didn’t ask why one of them gave Clark her number. He acknowledged the women never said Clark threatened them.

No footage of Clark’s interactions with the women at the convenience store were seized because the women waited more than 30 days to contact the sheriff’s office and the footage had been deleted.

The detective testified the women said they waited so long to report Clark “because he’s a cop” and they didn’t think anyone would believe them.

The hearing will continue 9 a.m. Thursday.