Crime

State reviewing SLO DA’s decision not to charge ex-Paso police sergeant accused of rape

In press conference SLO DA says no charges for ex-Paso Robles Police officer

A former Paso Robles police officer will not face criminal charges despite evidence of ‘forcible sex acts’ with a woman, San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow announced at a news conference Thursday.
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A former Paso Robles police officer will not face criminal charges despite evidence of ‘forcible sex acts’ with a woman, San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow announced at a news conference Thursday.

The state’s top law enforcement agency is reviewing the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office’s decision not to prosecute an ex-police sergeant from Paso Robles who was accused by a woman of rape and other crimes.

The review by the California Attorney General’s Office comes as the alleged rape victim of former officer Christopher McGuire filed paperwork in court to sue the city of Paso Robles over the officer’s alleged actions on and off duty.

The North County woman — whom The Tribune is not identifying because she’s an alleged victim of sexual violence — had previously filed an administrative claim with the city, which took no action on it, according to Josh George, an attorney representing the city.

As such, the alleged victim must now petition the court to pursue a civil lawsuit due to statute of limitations issues.

‘Not typical’

McGuire is accused of raping the woman in her home after initially coming into contact with her while responding to a domestic violence call. A subsequent investigation by the Sheriff’s Office found at least three women alleged that McGuire assaulted and harassed them, or engaged in misconduct in their presence.

The Sheriff’s Office concluded the officer should be prosecuted for forcible rape, attempted forcible rape, and assault and battery.

But despite that recommendation and DNA evidence proving a sexual encounter took place, county District Attorney Dan Dow in November announced that he would not pursue any charges against the officer, who by then had resigned from the Paso Robles Police Department.

The case led to Central Coast Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham submitting a bill that would close legal loopholes to make it easier for prosecutors to criminally charge public officials who abuse their position of power for sexual favors.

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Former Sgt. Christopher McGuire, who was accused of rape and sexual misconduct, resigned from the Paso Robles Police Department in October before the department could take administrative action. Paso Robles Police Department

On April 10, state Deputy Attorney General Nancy Lii Ladner sent a letter to Brian Claypool, an attorney representing McGuire’s alleged rape victim, in response to his request in February that the Attorney General’s Office review the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office’s decision.

“Your letter has been forwarded to me, and our office is taking the matter under review,” Lii Ladner wrote. “I will notify you of the results when our review has concluded.”

Dow said by email Wednesday that his office was notified by the Attorney General’s Office of the review and is “cooperating fully with their office.”

At a Nov. 18, 2018, news conference announcing he would not prosecute McGuire, Dow told reporters that even though there was evidence of a sexual encounter, “no reasonable and objective jury could find Mr. McGuire guilty of the alleged crimes.”

On Wednesday, Claypool — who represented the family of a Tulare man who was unarmed when he was fatally shot by then-Porterville police officer McGuire in 2009 — called the DA’s November decision “spineless.”

“This is not typical,” Claypool said of the AG’s Office taking up the case. “I wanted someone more independent to look at the evidence.”

‘A matter of time’

After Paso Robles took no action on the alleged victim’s claim for damages, she would normally have been able to file a lawsuit in court. But because the statute of limitations on such a claim — six months — she also had to file a petition for a late claim.

A hearing will be scheduled in San Luis Obispo Superior Court in the coming months in which a judge will rule whether the woman can be released from the claims process and file a civil complaint against the city.

Claypool said he believes his client has solid grounds to get around the typical statute of limitations given that the Sheriff’s Office’s investigation, which she cooperated with, lasted for three months after she reported McGuire in May. The DA’s Office took an additional two months to do its own review.

At the time, the woman was represented by Ilan Funke-Bilu, a criminal attorney who acted as her counsel under Marsy’s Law.

Claypool said Wednesday that pursuing legal remedies for her alleged abuse has been “a roller-coaster ride” for the victim.

“She’s been mentally devastated,” he said.

But Claypool also said she’s prepared to fight, and regardless of the Attorney General’s review, plans to expose information in court he said the city is hiding about McGuire.

“This is just a matter of time until we get the truth,” Claypool said. “The longer it goes, the more discovery we do, the deeper we dig, the worse it’s going to be for the city.”

The Paso Robles Police Department allowed Sergeant Christopher McGuire to resign in October following accusations of sexual assault. A San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office report reveals details of the investigation.

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