At least three California Highway Patrol officers have been accused of accessing nude pictures of arrested women taken off their cellphones, according to a sworn search warrant that was reported over the weekend.
The Contra Costa Times reported that a CHP officer in the San Francisco Bay Area has confessed to stealing nude pictures of a suspected drunken driver from her phone, as she was being processed at a jail in Martinez.
The officer, 35-year-old Sean Harrington, told prosecutors that sending copies of compromising photos of arrestees was a common "game'' that he learned in the CHP Los Angeles office. According to court documents, Harrington, a five-year veteran, added that he had done the same thing a "half dozen times in the last several years."
None of the officers has been charged in connection with the allegations, but prosecutors told the Contra Costa Times that the investigation could compromise any case where the officers appear as witnesses. The DUI case that led to the investigation into Harrington has already been dismissed.
Records about the sent photos were somehow deleted from the woman's phone, but copies were retained on the woman's Apple iCloud account, and she later found them on her synced iPad.
An affidavit sworn by an investigator for the Contra Costa County District Attorney's office identified a second CHP officer who received photos from Harrington as Robert Hazlewood. The document claims the two officers then sent comments back and forth, commenting on her "rocking'' body.
In another case, court documents also describe texts between the two officers, that included photos of a 19-year-old woman suspected of drunken driving sent from Harrington to Hazelwood. The photos showed the DUI suspect in a bikini, and the affidavit said Hazelwood texted back a question: "No [expletive] nudes?''
Harrington confessed to the investigator that he had stolen six photos and sent one to Hazelwood.
"The callousness and depravity with which these officers communicated about my client is dehumanizing, horribly offensive and degrading to all women," Rick Madsen, an attorney for the unidentified woman, told the paper. "It's going to lead to another level of mistrust and skepticism to the motive of law enforcement in general."
CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said that the allegations "anger and disgust me. We expect the highest levels of integrity and moral strength from everyone in the California Highway Patrol, and there is no place in our organization for such behavior."