Fife police station sex acts not a crime, report says
STEVE MAYNARD; Staff writer
A Fife police lieutenant exposed himself to a subordinate employee on numerous occasions and had sex with her once while both were on duty in the police station, according to an outside law enforcement investigation.
The report released Monday was one of three this month that found misconduct or policy violations by three veteran Fife police officers.
The criminal investigation of Lt. Jeff Westover did not conclude that he committed a crime, and he was never charged with one. Investigators determined that he exposed himself to the woman “with consent.”
She was among multiple female employees who alleged that Westover showed them pornographic or other offensive images on his cellphone. But the investigation said there are several inconsistencies between employees and “unresolved questions” about who had knowledge of Westover showing the pictures and videos.
The outside investigation, conducted by Auburn police Cmdr. Mike Hirman, is dated Jan. 6. That’s the same day Westover, a 17-year veteran of the Fife department, resigned “to pursue my personal business adventures.”
Hirman said Westover may have committed indecent exposure in front of one female police employee in 2001, but “the statute of limitations for prosecution has elapsed.” His report also said the woman’s “memory and credibility may be in question.”
The woman is the main victim cited in the report. Westover was her boss over several years because he was the ranking officer on the night shift that they both worked.
“Although there were a number of other occasions when he exposed himself while on duty and in the police station,” Hirman wrote, “all the information we’ve been able to collect suggests they were with consent.”
Hirman concluded: “I am confident that we have resolved all of the criminal allegations.”
The city released 230 pages of the Auburn police investigation of Westover on Monday in response to a public records request from The News Tribune. The report consists of Hirman’s one-page summary and transcripts of interviews with numerous police employees.
The City of Fife first said it would release the Westover report, but then on May 3 said it wouldn’t because the allegations were unsubstantiated. Later, the city reversed itself and said it would release the investigation. That change came after further review of public records laws, City Manager Dave Zabell said.
The transcripts show a progression of interviews with the main victim. She initially portrayed her encounters with Westover as nonconsensual, but by the third interview said many had her consent.
Those encounters included: Westover showing her pornographic pictures on his cellphone; Westover exposing and masturbating himself, followed by her masturbating him; and the two of them having sex once in the women’s locker room at the police station.
She said Hirman asked about that incident, “Did you feel pressured to do that or was it more consensual?”
“It was, well (I) guess you can technically call it consensual because I didn’t say anything,” the woman said. “I couldn’t say anything.”
In his report, Hirman said an internal investigation might be necessary to determine who knew about Westover showing inappropriate photos.
Zabell said an internal investigation was done. It focused on the main female victim’s complaints about Westover, made to another Fife police lieutenant, Doug Burrus.
Burrus, another 17-year department veteran, was suspended for three days without pay after an outside investigation showed he didn’t follow through on the employee’s complaints that she’d been sexually harassed by Westover for nearly a decade. That report was released earlier this month, but documents didn’t name Westover as the officer accused of sexual harassment until Monday.
Zabell said Westover was never interviewed and couldn’t be compelled to be interviewed after he resigned. While there may be evidence of misconduct by Westover, the internal investigation was never completed because Westover quit, Zabell said.
The release of the Westover investigation is the latest in a series of investigative records involving the police department, starting with Burrus.
Then last week, Fife released a Sumner police investigation that reported veteran Fife police detective Roy Shane Farnworth drank three to four double vodkas while on call and drove while under the influence, striking a concrete barrier and totaling his unmarked patrol car in Tacoma. Farnworth violated state DUI laws and five Fife police policies on that night in December. Farnworth, an 18-year employee of Fife police, resigned May 5 “due to personal reasons.”
“The allegations in this report are not reflective of the Fife Police Department as an organization,” Zabell said Monday. “It’s unfortunate that things like this come up in any department and, in some respects, reflect negatively on that department and take away from public view the good work that these folks do every day on behalf of the community.”
Steve Maynard: 253-597-8647