The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney on Thursday declined to charge a Paso Robles police officer who resigned in October while under investigation for alleged on-duty sexual assault, in spite of existing DNA evidence.
District Attorney Dan Dow announced at a news conference that his office did not have enough evidence to merit prosecuting former Paso Robles Sgt. Christopher McGuire, and that “no reasonable and objective jury could find Mr. McGuire guilty of the alleged crimes.”
Since McGuire was placed on paid administrative leave in May, officials had refused to describe the allegations against McGuire, other than saying they involved sexual assault.
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office conducted an investigation into the allegations and forwarded the results to the District Attorney’s Office.
In response to a Tribune question at the news conference, Assistant District Attorney Eric Dobroth revealed the Sheriff’s Office did recommend filing forcible sex acts charges against McGuire.
Dobroth said that there were several acts of sexual contact between McGuire and the alleged victim between December 2017 and March 2018. Some of the acts allegedly occurred when McGuire was on duty, Dobroth said.
“There is evidence of at least consensual sexual contact,” Dow later said.
Though Dow said efforts to secure a conviction would be unsuccessful, he said it would be “improper” to reveal whether his office concluded McGuire committed any crimes.
McGuire resigned from the Paso Robles Police Department on Oct. 1. The city is no longer conducting an internal investigation because McGuire is no longer an employee, Police Chief Ty Lewis said in a phone interview and via emailed questions.
The city will instead rely on reviews conducted by the District Attorney and Sheriff’s offices, he said.
McGuire’s history and future career
McGuire was hired by the Paso Robles Police Department in December 2012 after beginning his law enforcement career in 2003 at the Farmersville Police Department.
In 2007, while assigned to an anti-vehicle theft team with the Porterville Police Department, McGuire fatally shot an unarmed Tulare man following what local news reports called a confrontation. McGuire returned to duty after an internal department investigation cleared him of wrongdoing, according to the Porterville Reporter.
In August, the city of Paso Robles asked a San Luis Obispo Superior Court judge to block the release of McGuire’s personnel records in response to a defense attorney’s request in an ongoing criminal case in which McGuire was an arresting officer.
Should McGuire apply for a law enforcement job elsewhere, he would have to sign a waiver allowing his potential employer to access his personnel files, Lewis said. This would alert them to the reasons for his departure from Paso Robles.
But Lewis said the city did not sign any nondisclosure agreements with the former officer.
‘She’s being re-victimized’
Dow has recently weighed in on the issue of sexual assault. He personally took over a sexual assault case involving a Cambria man and penned an op-ed in September in which he claimed he “stands up for survivors of abuse and sexual assault.”
“(Sexual assault and childhood sexual abuse) is not a partisan political issue,” Dow wrote. “It is a culture issue. To change our culture, let’s ‘Start by Believing.’ ”
When The Tribune asked Thursday whether McGuire’s alleged victim was being believed, Dow said, “The slogan ‘Start by Believing’ is a perfect example of what we did in this case.”
With local criminal charges now off the table, it’s unclear whether the woman accusing McGuire will take legal action.
In a Tribune phone interview, attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu, who is representing the alleged victim, said his client is very disappointed in the district attorney’s decision. Funke-Bilu declined to comment further on what, if any, steps she plans to take.
“In my opinion, she’s being re-victimized,” he said.