Three CHP officers implicated in a nude photos scandal considered it a game. According to an October 25 ContraCostaTimes news report, prosecutors say California Highway Patrol officer Sean Harrington confessed to stealing naked images from the cellphone of an arrested woman (on DUI suspicions) and sharing them with at least two other CHP colleagues. Moreover, Harrington said it was part of a “game” that has been going on for years. The three highway patrolmen are facing felony computer theft charges and possible dismissal from their roles as California police officers.
In a Superior Court document obtained Friday, by the SF Gate, it shows that the Dublin CHP officer was unauthorized to access a 23-year-old woman’s mobile phone on August 29 after she was arrested in San Ramon for DWI charges. Allegedly, five days after Jane Doe 1 was released from jail, she noticed at least six photos of her in different levels of undress were sent from her iPhone to an unknown number. Although the sender of the stolen nude images deleted the messages from the device, all the information was retained on her synced iPad.
Another incident involving the CHP officer took place on August 7 in Livermore. Reportedly, a 19-year-old woman came under suspicion for driving while intoxicated after an accident that landed her in the hospital. While Jane Doe 2 was having X-rays on her body, Harrington allegedly stole private bikini photos of the arrested suspect and shared them with highway patrolman Robert Hazelwood. Talking in police code, the two exchanged disturbing text messages about the racy cellphone photos. Of note: “10-15” is CHP’s radio code that means a woman is in custody.
“Taken from the phone of my 10-15x while she’s in X-rays. Enjoy buddy!!!”
“No (expletive) nudes?”
A sworn affidavit says that a third officer, Dion Simmons, also from the CHP Dublin office, received the cellphone pictures from Harrington. They too exchanged texts over the woman’s private bikini images.
Simmons texted back “Nice” and “Hahahaaaa.”
Harrington replies: “Just rerun a favor down the road buddy. :)”
Senior Contra Costa district attorney inspector Darryl Holcombe used surveillance footage and the time stamps from the victims’ mobile devices to track the sending source of the naked and racy photos back to Harrington.
“Harrington said he first learned of this scheme when he was working in the Los Angeles office. Harrington said when he was assigned to the Dublin office, he learned from other officers that they would access the cell phones of female arrestees and look for nude photographs of them. Harrington said if photographs were located, the officers would then text the photographs to other sworn members of the office, and, to non-CHP individuals. Harrington described this scheme as a game.”
A lawyer representing Jane Doe 1 is shocked by the findings by prosecutors. Attorney Rick Madsen said the egregious behavior Harrington and other CHP officers engaged in the naked photos scandal has implications that are “far-reaching and very damaging.”
“The callousness and depravity with which these officers communicated about my client are dehumanizing, horribly offensive and degrading to all women. It’s going to lead to another level of mistrust and skepticism to the motive of law enforcement in general.”
Prosecutors and the CHP commissioner are considering dismissing cases the officers were involved in, for obvious reasons. No charges have been filed in the nude photos scandal. However, at least one officer is known to have been placed on desk duty pending an investigation. A decision on possible criminal proceedings will be announced next week.