A California Highway Patrol officer is facing felony charges for allegedly stealing explicit photos from the phones of women he arrested.
Dublin-based CHP Officer Sean Harrington is charged him with two counts of computer data theft. He sent the pictures to at least two fellow officers as part of what he called a “game,” according to court documents.
Contra Costa deputy district attorney Barry Grove said Friday the two counts stem from two separate incidents that took place in August. "Obviously, something harmful was done,” Grove said. “This was an extreme invasion of privacy to these young women.”
Harrington's attorney, Michael Rains, agreed.
"This behavior is really not defensible,” Rains said. “It is impulsive, immature and inappropriate in every sense of the word.”
Harrington realizes his actions have tarnished the badge and submitted his resignation on Wednesday, Rains said.
"You talk about paying the price for something you once called a game. You can't pay too much of a price for that, and frankly, it's not over," said Rains, adding that his client is sorry for his actions and wants the women victimized to know that.
Attorney Rick Madsen, who represents the alleged 23-year-old victim, said he doesn’t buy it. “He's sorry he got caught," he said.
Rains said Harrington has admitted he stole explicit photos from the phones of up to a half-dozen arrestees. Search warrant documents detail text messages sent between them: "Her body is rocking," states one. Another reads: “Taken from the phone of my 10-15x while she's in X-rays. Enjoy buddy!!!”
"The women who were victimized by this deserve to be angry and upset because it's not a game, it's a serious matter,” Rains said.
Defense attorneys across the East Bay are shaking their heads as details continue to emerge about the alleged scheme to steal nude photos from arrestees’ cell phones and then text them to other officers.
“It's far from a game,” Oakland-based DUI attorney Francisco Rodriguez previously told NBC Bay Area. “It's a betrayal of the public's trust."
Attorney Rick Madsen, who represents the alleged 23-year-old victim, said last week the officers' communications were "dehumanizing'' and "horribly offensive'' to his client and all women, saying, "It's going to lead to another level of mistrust and skepticism to the motive of law enforcement in general.'
The other two officers who Harrington claims took part in the alleged “game” will not be charged at this point, prosecutors said.