A former Santa Barbara police detective accused of masturbating in front of two teenage girls on Refugio Beach in 2009 dodged some of the most damning allegations against him when a Santa Maria jury returned its verdict Wednesday afternoon.
Brian Sawicki, 36, was found not guilty of annoying a child, lewd acts in public, and electronic peeping. He was found guilty of destroying evidence and resisting a peace officer. When he’s sentenced on November 15, Sawicki could face up to one year in jail for resisting a police officer, and up to six months in jail for destroying evidence.
When Sawicki was chased down and arrested in 2009, authorities found recording binoculars, an “Epic Stealth” camera, and a Canon camera in his backpack. The 13-year-old girls had told a responding ranger they saw Sawicki following them on the beach and thought they saw him masturbating. Sawicki’s lawyer told the jury during opening statements that the former cop was taking a photo to share with his girlfriend.
“Although I disagree with the outcome, I am always proud when members of the community make time to serve on a jury,” said prosecutor Brooke Gerard on Wednesday. “The girls said he was creepy, and the evidence clearly showed it,” she went on.
District Attorney Joyce Dudley responded to the verdict with a prepared statement: “We file charges based upon the evidence before us. For each filing our goal is to always the same, to seek justice; to do so we rely on the expertise of our [Deputy District Attorneys] and the collective wisdom of our hard-working juries.”