As the fallout spread this week from the lawsuits against UCSB by four of its police officers, UCSB continued to defend its actions concerning the sexual assault alleged to have taken place in student residence halls in 2016 by other police officers. The lawsuits outlined the retaliation the officers say they suffered for whistleblowing on the department and, in so doing, disclosed questionable activity by other litigants and other members of the UCSB Police Department.
“Every sexual assault report … is thoroughly investigated,” UCSB spokesperson Andrea Estrada conveyed from Vice Chancellor Garry Mac Pherson, who oversees UCSB-PD. Any finding would be forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office, Mac Pherson stated. The Santa Barbara Superior Court shows no court case filed against any of the officers accused in former lieutenant Mark Signa’s complaint.
UCSB’s email stated the allegations and the police department’s responses were being “comprehensively reviewed by the University. In addition, we have engaged an outside agency to conduct an independent investigation.” The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, after the Independent‘s print deadline, disclosed it had conducted a criminal investigation into the sexual assault allegations in June 2016. Detectives looked into misconduct alleged against two UCSB-PD officers, Sheriff’s spokesperson Kelly Hoover stated. The case was closed, Hoover said, because the victim requested that it be closed or suspended and insufficient evidence supported the commission of a crime. California’s criminal statute on rape requires testimony of the victim, rape-kit evidence, or witness testimony for successful prosecution, according to online sources.
Hoover also stated the university had not asked the Sheriff’s Office to look into the current lawsuits’ allegations. Santa Barbara Police Department spokesperson Anthony Wagner said his agency would not be involved in a UCSB internal investigation.
Many people contacted by reporters about the lawsuits expressed opinions about the university police department and its officers’ actions, but all strictly off the record. Few of the comments agreed with each other.
Richie Litigation, which represents Signa and corporals Tiffany and Michael Little, stated three more related lawsuits would be filed in the near future.