Everybody’s worst fear is the prospect of their privacy being invaded. Phones today are more computers in our pockets than what they were just a few years ago. People store some of their most personal information on these devices.
When a 23-year-old woman, identified only as Jane Doe, was pulled over for a DUI, she was immediately taken to jail. Once at the jail, she needed a phone number off of her phone. To get it, she gave the officer her password. He gave her the phone number she needed, but then did something despicable after gaining access.
35-year-old California Highway Patrol Officer Sean Harrington began to search the suspects phone, including her photos.
After she was released from jail, she looked at her phone and noticed that 6 nude or semi-nude photos of herself were sent to an unknown 707-area code while she was still in police custody.
A search warrant was later issued against Harrington. The photos were found on his cell phone and personal laptop.
Rick Madsen, her attorney, provided a statement to the district attorney’s office.
Madsen said his client is humiliated and called the case a violation of public trust.
“She has no idea where the photographs are, who has seen them, who has retransmitted them, or when they will reappear for the rest of her life.” Madsen said. “The anxiety associated with it is unbearable.”
In a later interview with ABC7 News, Madsen stated,
“We don’t know at this point, although we’re gratified by the extent of the investigation by the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office, the extent to which they’ve been transmitted, either to other individuals perhaps other law enforcement officers.”
A California Highway Patrol spokeswoman said that they are cooperating with the investigation, as well as conducting their own administrative investigation. The officer has been placed on administrative duties and his peace officer powers have been taken away.
Barry Grove with the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office said investigators have known about the case for weeks. They are investigating multiple cases similar to this one.
“Police officers are human beings just like everybody else,” Grove said. “They’re sworn to do a job, they’re sworn to uphold the law, but sometimes, just like all human beings, they fall short of what they’re supposed to do.”
The District Attorney is recommending felony computer theft. An announcement as to whether or not charges will be filed is expected next week.