SAPD Rape Investigation – A Bad Ethical Call

Voice of OC reported last Thursday night on an allegation that a minor girl was raped by a minor boy at a party held at Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido’s home several weeks ago.

According to the Voice of OC story:

An incident summary released by police provided the following description of the incident: “Suspect takes victim into the bathroom. Suspect proceeds to sexually assault the victim against her will.”

The incident report lists two California penal codes that were allegedly violated, one covering rape and one covering oral copulation, according to Bertagna.

The incident was alleged to have occurred between 4 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 21 and was reported to police at 10:27 p.m. Tuesday, according to the crime report. Bertagna said the report was made by a hospital in San Diego County as required by law whenever hospital staff encounter a possible case of rape.

Police spokesman Anthony Bertagna said Thursday that the department’s investigation into the alleged incident at the mayor’s home is still open and will be referred to the Orange County district attorney’s office.

However, police determined — after investigating for less than 48 hours — that the allegation is “unfounded,” Bertagna said.

The party was chaperoned by adults, and Pulido was at home, Bertanga said. Pulido hung up on a reporter seeking comment on the alleged incident.

Because this investigation is still allegedly being investigated by the Santa Ana Police Department and further possible investigation may determine additional information I am not going to weigh in on the veracity of the allegations. I will however take issue with the fact that the SAPD determined that there was no conflict or ethical problems regarding their investigating the allegations.

“It wasn’t an issue for us, because the mayor nor any of his family members were alleged suspects in this particular case,” Bertagna said.

Miguel Pulido – Photo: Chris Prevatt/LiberalOC

While Bertagna may be accurate in his statement about the Mayor and his family members not being suspects, the fact that a possible sexual assault occurred at the Mayor’s residence, while Mayor Pulido was at home should have immediately caused the department to seek assistance from a neutral third party,  such as the District Attorney or Orange County Sheriff, to lead the investigation.

Further, the fact that if a sexual assault did occur under the Mayors supervision of a party in his home, and the possibility that alcohol may have been consumed by minors at the party, establishes a significant potential liability for the homeowner, Mayor Pulido.

As the Voice of OC story pointed out, there are concerns over the speed at which (48-hours) a conclusion was reached in the investigation. Those questions of conflict of interest, bias, and even possible cover-up, would not exist if the lead role in the investigation had been turned over to an outside agency at the start.

SAPD command made a really bad call here, and they should have known better to begin with.

  1 comment for “SAPD Rape Investigation – A Bad Ethical Call

  1. October 15, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    I fail to see why this should have been turned over to an outside agency. Is SAPD supposed to give up their primary role of crime investigation anytime a city council member or high ranking employee is involved? And, in this case, it was their home not the person that was involved. Unless you can show massive coverups in the past by SAPD for sitting councilmembers, what’s your basis for this? Or is this the continuation of the line, since Kelly Thomas, that all police are corrupt and can’t be trusted?

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