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SLO police detective said students ‘conjured up’ rape reports. Now he’s under review

The San Luis Obispo Police Department will review whether its lead investigator made inappropriate remarks about sexual assault victims after he was quoted as saying that many college students “conjured up” reports of rape.

“At the beginning of the school year, you get an uptick” in reports of sexual assaults, Sgt. Chad Pfarr told local alternative weekly New Times in an article published Thursday.

“We get a ton of young people that come into town that have never really consumed alcohol before and now they’re experimenting with different alcohols,” Pfarr told New Times.

Students often "feel like they got sexually assaulted because they blacked out" when really, he said, "it was just something that was conjured up," according to the New Times article.

In an email to The Tribune, police Capt. Chris Staley said the department will thoroughly review the recorded phone conversation between Sgt. Pfarr and New Times to understand precisely what was said.

“If Sgt. Pfarr made statements that were inconsistent with policy, appropriate training and/or corrective action will be taken, consistent with the California Peace Officer Bill of Rights,” Staley said.

Pfarr did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

Staley said Pfarr “is aware that someone who may black out can be a victim of rape,” and has received extensive training in investigating sexual assaults.

“This training includes, but is not limited to, best practices in the interview process with victims, witnesses and suspects, as well as psychological and emotional effects of trauma,” Staley said.

District Attorney Dan Dow said he’s known Pfarr a long time “and he cares very deeply about proving those cases. He would not intentionally make a statement that would appear to not support victims of sexual assault.”

Staley emphasized that SLOPD takes every report of sexual assault seriously.

“Sgt. Pfarr has conveyed that he certainly did not intend to minimize or trivialize sexual assaults,” Staley wrote. “We apologize for statements that were not empathetic and/or sensitive to victims. We will use this interaction as an opportunity to reinforce and enhance awareness and sensitivity to this important issue among all of our officers and to ensure that we are providing the most supportive response and service possible to victims of sexual assault.”

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7929, @andrewsheeler

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