Martial arts instructor gets a year in jail, HMB cop not charged


Posted by on Tue, April 10, 2007

The Half Moon Bay Brazilian martial arts instructor who pleaded no contest to inappropriately touching four teenage boys received a year in jail, according to the County Times.

Meanwhile the officer on adminstrative leave during the investigation of whether he withheld evidence of the molestation, will not be prosecuted, reports the Daily Journal.

District Attorney Jim Fox decided Thursday against charging the officer for failing his duty as a mandated reporter — a misdemeanor — and instead is returning the matter to the Half Moon Bay police department for review.

"We concluded this is a matter best left to the personnel of the department," Wagstaffe said.

...

The boys later told one victim’s father and he in turn approached the officer with whom he was friends for advice.

The officer was off duty and reportedly told the unsure father to consider whether he wanted to press charges. The officer later told the father he had to come forward, Wagstaffe said.

The Daily Journal decided to withhold the officer’s name because no charges were filed, but the officer’s name has been released by the Review.


“The Daily Journal decided to withhold the officer’s name because no charges were filed, but the officer’s name has been released by the Review.”

Perhaps its just me, but the way you have worded that comment leads me to believe you have an opinion regarding the Review’s decision to “release” the officer’s name last week.  If that is the case, would you mind sharing it with your readers?

Thanks.

Yup, I read it the same way.

Good question. This is a judgement call as far as I’m concerned.

On the one hand, when I run the police reports, I almost always remove the names of suspects.  This is consistent with the Daily Journal’s policy.  If I remember correctly, it’s also what the Review does.

However, I don’t fault the Review in this case. This incident has some bearing on the officer’s assignment.  And, as I understand it, the case is far from over, as it’s still a personnel matter for the HMBPD. I can understand feeling the need to release the information once you have it. To be honest, it’s a difficult call and I’m not certain anyone has enough information to make it.

However, once it has been run by the Review, it should be considered public knowledge.  That’s why I linked to it. If you want to know, click on the link.  If you’d prefer not know, don’t click on the link.

What would you do?

Definitely a judgement call, but this is no DUI or domestic disturbance.

Due to the small size of the department and the very public fact that an investigation was ongoing (for weeks), full closure is important.  Knowing the particular officer that was involved is very material to public interest, charges or not.  This is compounded by the Chief’s situation.

I agree - the Review is not at fault.  The Daily Journal?  Not exactly a paragon of journalistic fortitude - their policy means little to me.  I think the real question is why the district attorney’s office confirmed or released the fact that an investigation was ongoing.  They put the department and all officers under a cloud of suspicion and it would not seem reasonable for it to just end in a “nothing happened, no charges filed” situation.  If they had used more discretion or ended the investigation sooner, the choice of not disclosing the name would have been easier. 

Thanks.

There is a lot to be said for not publishing potentially damaging information about someone until after something like an internal or official investigation is completed. Even after it is completed it probably serves the public interest best to look at the impact of that knowledge getting out there (good to hold people accountable, but that’s what internal discipline policies are for)...all in all, from what the DA is saying, sounds like the officer didn’t withhold as much as he delayed reporting.