Sean Harrington, 35, “abused his authority” and deeply regrets his “insensitivity,” his attorney said Monday. Harrington himself, who was
freed on $10,000 bail after being charged with theft and copying their computer data, did not comment after a Contra Costa County Superior Court hearing, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
He resigned from his job last week, accused not only of stealing the women’s cellphone photos, but sharing them with colleagues. A lawyer
for a third woman says she believes she may also have been victimized, but Harrington is not charged concerning her claim, an earlier San
Francisco Chronicle article says.
Several driving-under-the-influence cases in Alameda and Contra Costa counties involving Harrington and female arrestees have been dropped.
He “abused his authority” and is deeply sorry for his “insensitivity” in stealing racy cell photos from two women he had arrested for drunken driving, his attorney said. Sean Harrington of Martinez California made his first court appearance after being charged with two felony counts of theft and copying computer data belonging to the women.
The police chief denounced the nude photo trading as dehumanizing. His wife sat in the courtroom gallery and supports him, his attorney
Michael Rains said after the brief hearing. Rains said Harrington is the father of two children.
Rains said that although his client had in the past described his conduct as a “game” and a “joke,” according to court records, Harrington’s behavior was far from that (a dangerous and costly game for Mr. Harrington). “This is no game,” Rains said. “What he meant was, ‘I didn’t do anything with it other than look at it myself; I sent it to one or two other people, we thought it was cute, we thought it was funny. We didn’t send it anywhere else; we didn’t put it on the Internet, we didn’t put it on Facebook. It went no further.’”
Rains said Harrington “recognized the impropriety of his conduct. He knew that that kind of conduct should and will cost him a career in law enforcement and, frankly, it should cost him a career in law enforcement. He tarnished his own name, and he tarnished the good name of law enforcement officers everywhere. ”If convicted, Harrington could be sentenced to anywhere from probation to three years and eight months in prison. (I highly doubt he will get any prison time and if his attorney is good, it will probably end up as a misdemeanor.)
Rains asked for the arraignment to be postponed, saying he needed to review the evidence surrounding what he said was a relatively new statute that had not been tested. But prosecutor Barry Grove said outside court that the law wasn’t complicated, saying, “If you go into somebody’s cell phone and you take their nude selfies without their permission, it’s a crime.” Yes, it is. I’m not condoning his behavior, but there are a lot worse crimes out there.
Grove said Harrington’s actions were “egregious, not only because of the invasion of privacy, but because it undermines the public trust in
the criminal justice system.” Grove said he couldn’t charge other officers who allegedly received photos from Harrington with receiving stolen property, because the women still have their pictures in their possession.
“If I take a picture of your picture and you still have your picture, that’s not stolen property,” Grove said. “Definitely some of the text messages that we’ve all seen are especially unappealing and unethical, but commenting on those photographs is not a crime as well, even though there may be consequences for them at their jobs.”
Bikini photos of a 19-year-old woman were allegedly stolen by Harrington as the woman was undergoing X-rays after being involved in a suspected DUI crash in Livermore in August. “Taken from the phone of my 10-15x while she’s in X-rays,” Harrington allegedly texted fellow Dublin CHP Officer Robert Hazelwood. In police parlance, “10-15x” refers to a female arrestee.
Hazelwood in turn responded, “No f— nudes?” senior district attorney’soffice inspector Darryl Holcombe wrote in a search warrant affidavit.
Then, on Aug. 29, Harrington secretly forwarded at least five photos that belonged to a 23-year-old woman he had arrested on suspicion of DUI in San Ramon, authorities said. That woman found out what happened when she looked at her iPad, which was synced to her iPhone, authorities said. She hired a lawyer and notified the district attorney’s office. Prosecutors opted not to charge that woman in her DUI case because of Harrington’s alleged conduct, court records show.
Although I’m sure she was embarrassed, at least she wasn’t charged with a DUI; ultimately I think she came out ahead of the game.
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