After recently being exposed for leaking explicit photographs of female arrestees, California Highway Patrolman Sam Harrington has resigned from the agency and charged Friday with two felonies for allegedly sharing these pictures with fellow officers.
According to reports from the Contra Costa Times, Harrington, 35, faces up to three years and eight months in prison under the two counts of computer theft filed against him Friday afternoon in Contra Costa County Superior Court. Harrington submitted his resignation to the CHP on Wednesday, according to a statement released by his attorney Friday afternoon.
In this statement, read by his attorney Michael Rains, Harrington expressed “his deepest apologies to the women whose cellular telephones were accessed or reviewed,” he also apologized to his colleagues, saying he was ” embarrassed to have tarnished the reputation of the California Highway Patrol and law enforcement generally.”
“We are pleased to hear of the felony charging decision today by the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office with respect to CHP Officer Harrington,” said Attorney Richard Madsen Jr. who represents two of the female victims ”We agree that those charges are merited by the shocking evidence and admissions in the search warrants.”
The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office began investigating Harrington and two other officers in early October after a 23-year-old Bay Are woman came forward to report that Harrington stole her nude and partially clad photos while she was in custody for a DUI arrest back in August. Since the woman first came forward, the investigation has widened to other departments across the area, including the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, which launched an interior investigation earlier this week.
In addition to being charged with stealing and dispersing the 23-year old woman’s photo, another 19-year-old woman who was arrested in August for a suspected DUI came forward making similar claims against Harrington. He is also under investigation in relation to a third woman’s complaint that her phone may have been tampered with by Harrington when he arrested her.
Chief Avery Browne of the CHP’s Golden Gate Division released a statement asserting that the practice of secretly trading explicit cellphone photos of female suspects is isolated to the Dublin office, where Harrington worked.
“As an organization we expect the highest level of integrity and moral strength from everyone in the California Highway Patrol, and there is no place in our organization for individuals who chose to manipulate the law and departmental policy for their personal gain,” Browne said. He said the department would continue its internal investigation and would discipline any officer involved, including firing them.
According to court documents, despite receiving stolen photos from Harrington, Officers Robert Hazelwood and Dion Simmons would not be charged with any crimes. Another, unnamed officer has been pulled from patrol duties, the CHP said. He expected to turn himself in Monday.
In a Friday press release, Contra Costa District Attorney Mark Peterson said that after interviewing several other officers at the CHP Dublin office, no further charges would be filed against any other CHP employee.
The CHP has acknowledged two officers were found to have done similar acts in Southern California in 2012, with one losing his job and the other resigning before the probe ended. Peterson said that this is the first time a law enforcement officer has received this sort of charge in Contra Costa County history. He expects Harrington to appear in court for an official arraignment in the near future.