In the wake of interviews by KPBS and the Union-Tribune with four of the eleven women accusing San Diego Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Fischer of sexual assault, Sheriff Bill Gore is trying to reassure the public about the pace of the investigation.
The women say Fischer groped, fondled or hugged them inappropriately. They told KPBS they believe the department has enough evidence to fire Fischer and the DA’s office should have initiated prosecutions by now.
In an interview with NBC 7’s Catherine Garcia, Gore said there are four investigators and one District Attorney assigned to the case, adding ”We’re not dragging our feet.”
Asked about a written complaint of sexual abuse filed more than a year prior to the opening of an investigation, the San Diego Sheriff maintains his department cannot find any record of the handwritten letter.
NBC7 displayed an image of the letter during a subsequent report by Wendy Frye.
From the Union-Tribune:
Underlying all of the allegations is a claim from a woman identified only as K.P., who says she warned the Sheriff’s Department in May 2016 that Fischer fondled her breasts during a drug arrest months earlier.
“He is a predator, not an officer,” said K.P.’s letter to the department, which she kept a copy of. Department officials said they have no record of the letter.
Attorney Marlea Dell’Anno co-represents the 10 alleged victims. A former prosecutor who worked with police for years, she said she was most bothered that no one at the Sheriff’s Department has updated her clients about the case, or offered them victim services.
Here’s Gore’s response to KPBS:
“One of the issues that’s come up in this investigation (is) that one of the victims has said that they reported this a year ago to the Sheriff’s Department (and) we did nothing. We have searched every database we have, in internal affairs, every station and we’ve gone through phone logs at our communications center. We cannot find any report of inaction or a report of inappropriate behavior by Deputy Fisher,” he said.
Attorney Dan Gilleon, whose firm is representing the women in the case, wasn’t buying that explanation, posting this comment along with a video of Frye’s report to YouTube:
Sheriff Gore likes to say over and over that his department takes the allegations against Fischer “very seriously.” But when confronted with a May 2016 letter in which a woman reported sexual abuse by Fischer, Gore throws any credibility he may have out the window by suggesting that since he cannot find the letter, the Department must have never received it.
Sheriff Gore, here’s another explanation: someone in your department tossed the letter when it came in a year and a half ago, suggesting that your department did not take it seriously until more victims came forward. Sheriff Gore, victim K.H. was assaulted in August 2017. She reported it to multiple deputies right away. She even met with Fischer’s lieutenant. Nothing was done until I got involved and filed a $6,000,000 claim. What’s your explanation for that? You checked your files and nobody documented K.H.’s complaints so you conclude she didn’t report it after all?
I say a better explanation is the same one for the May 2016 letter: your department did not take these accusations seriously until one courageous woman refused to be silenced, paving the way for the next 10 to come forward.
Gilleon’s office handled many claims of sexual assault and abuse filed against San Diego Police Department officers earlier in the decade. Two officers went to jail, and the City paid out more than $10 million in claims filed by more than a dozen women.
Claims against the San Diego Sheriffs Office are the responsibility of the County government. The eleven women accusing Deputy Fischer are each seeking $6 million in damages.
San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore is running for office once again in 2018. He was appointed to the position in 2009 by the County Board of Supervisors as the handpicked successor to Bill Kolender and won campaigns in 2010 and 2014.
Sheriff’s Commander Dave Myers is challenging Gore for the position. He released a statement via Facebook on Thursday:
The reports filed by 11 women accusing an on-duty San Diego County Sheriff’s Deputy of sexual misconduct are deeply troubling and represent an on-going betrayal of community trust.
It took 7 months after the first report for the Sheriff to commit necessary resources for an internal investigation. Furthermore, the Sheriff remained silent since the first report was filed.
As a sworn peace officer, I understand the principle of “innocent until proven guilty.” However, law enforcement leaders shouldn’t wait years to speak up to protect and revive public trust.
After Myers declared his candidacy for the Sheriff position, his office was relocated to a former broom closet and removed from the chain of command and all internal management committee meetings.
I have to say Sheriff Gore flunks the Duck Test when it comes to whether or not he’s capable of conducting his job in a manner serving the interests of the public:
“If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck”
Holiday Schedule: Starting Line will be on break December 23 to January 2. I’ll be in town and will break my silence should anything major happen. Jim Miller’s column and other regular features, like the Progressive Activist Calendar, will return after the first of the year. So, yeah, we’re going to have a light schedule over the holidays.
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