Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Spokane Firehouse Sex Case Update

The Spokesman Review reported this morning that Spokane Mayor Hession announced the Spokane Police Department has reopened its investigation of the firehouse sex incident that occurred on Feburary 11.

As I noted in my March 6, 2006, post entitled Thank Goodness for Lawyers, there was probable cause to believe state crimes other than rape had been committed. Here's a quick summary:

  • RCW 9A.76.080 Rendering Criminal Assistance. A person renders criminal assistance if he intends to prevent, hinder, or delay the apprehension of one whom he knows has committed a crime and he conceals, alters, or destroys physical evidence that might aid in the discovery or apprehension of the suspect. This charge would apply to the police detectives who erased or allowed to be erased the images they knew or should have known to be evidence of the crime of sexual exploitation of a minor.
  • RCW 9.68A.040 Sexual Exploitation of a Minor. A person is guilty of sexual exploitation of a minor if he causes a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct knowing that such conduct will be photographed. This applies to the firefighter who photographed the minor 16-year-old girl engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
  • RCW 9.68A.070 Possession of depictions of minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. A person who knowingly possesses visual or printed matter depicting a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct is guilty of a class C felony. This applies to the firefighter who showed detectives the images he took, presumably to demonstrate the minor girl's consensual involvement.
  • RCW 9.68A.090 Communication with minor for immoral purposes. A person who communicates with a minor for immoral purposes is guilty of a gross misdemeanor. This applies to the firefighter who used the Internet site to communicate with the minor girl.
  • RCW 9A.28.040 Criminal conspiracy. A person commits criminal conspiracy when he intends criminal conduct to be performed, he agrees with at least one other person to engage in or perform the conduct, and any of the agreeing parties takes a substantial step in pursuing the agreement. The applies to both the police detectives and possibly the firefighter. The criminal conduct was RCW 9A.76.080 Rendering Criminal Assistance, the agreement was the collective decision to erase the evidentiary images on the camera's memory chip, and the erasure itself was a substantial step in completing the agreed upon action.

The firefighter has resigned from the Spokane City Fire Department, however he can still be charged and prosecuted for crimes associated with this incident. He could also be charged for other crimes should evidence of additional crimes be discovered. This would not constitute double jeopardy, because he was never arrested and charged with the alleged rape or any other crime.

The Spokane police detective and detective sergeant may have also committed crimes noted above. If any police supervisor as yet unnamed directed the erasure of the images, he too is potentially liable.

What are some potential long-term consequences for the Spokane Police Department? For one, criminal defense attorneys will very likely be examining recent convictions in which either or both detectives involved gave damaging testimony against the attorney's client. If the reactivated investigation shows the detectives did, in fact, alter or destroy evidence, the attorneys will reasonably ask two questions:

  • Did the detective destroy exculpatory evidence that might have helped my client?
  • Did the detective fabricate evidence that may have harmed my client?

Those are inevitable questions when a police detective is shown to have tampered with evidence.

Other consequences will depend on the diligence and integrity of the reactivated investigation. Unfortunately for the Spokane Police Department, that investigation is being conducted by the Spokane Police Department. The public would have more confidence if the investigation were conducted by an outside impartial agency, one with no political connections with the Spokane Police Department. If any supervisor(s) directed the detectives to engage in activities amounting to crimes or even professional misconduct, the supervisor(s) must be identified, certainly disciplined, and prosecuted if appropriate. The higher up the police command structure this travels and the more supervisors involved, the stronger the inclination to circle the wagons.

The public might also have more confidence in the outcome if the Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney requested that the Washington State Attorney General appoint a special prosecutor. Any impartial investigation of this entire incident must include determining what the county prosecutor's office knew, when it knew it, and what prosecutorial guidelines or policies the police were operating under.

The adult website that allowed contact between the firefighter and the minor was adultfriendfinder.com. An examination of that site reveals it is operated by Various, Inc., in Palo Alto, California. If either the minor or the firefighter was a paying registered member of adultfriendfinder.com, that may amount to interstate commerce. It may be enough to ask the US Department of Justice to get involved as investigator (FBI) and prosecutor (US Attorney's Office). The federal violations might be found under Title 18 US Code, Chapter 110, Sexual Exploitation and Other Abuse of Children.

Regardless, both the police department and the county prosecutor would be better off if the investigation and any subsequent prosecutions were conducted by outside agencies. Both the police and prosecuting attorney need to make whatever corrections are necessary to restore public trust and confidence in their people and operations.


Anonymous M Naylor said...

You should run for office. The very same thing happened to me Bill. I filed perjury charges against my ex-wife Rhonda Naylor the former Director of CASA for the First Judicial Distric. Bill Douglas at first said I had a very strong case and then months afterwords decided not to prosecute. I wonder why. Rhonda had testified in hundreds of child abuse and neglect cases in the five northern counties of Idaho for the courts. Rhonda also has knowledge of the failure to protect children by the Prosecutor's and other agencies. Such as in the Lizzy Goodwin case. How would it look if the former Director of the Court Appionted Special Advacacy Program was convicted of perjury. They would have to re-open all those cases she testified in. Why has no information come out in regards to the FBI's investigation into the missing funds and files at CASA. Keep going Bill. It is so nice to see a man with Integrity.

10:58 AM, March 11, 2006  

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