By Shelby R. King
Bend City Manager Eric King has launched an internal review of the police department following the sex scandal involving the department’s former public information officer Lt. Chris Carney, three city employees and one member of the media.
“I’m meeting with a cross section of individuals to assess the culture and see what changes need to be made,” King said. “That’s part of why I’ve taken time this week to meet with folks and determine a path forward.”
King’s internal review comes as new information continues to emerge surrounding Carney’s resignation, including information about the discipline taken against the other employees, Carney’s alleged involvement with a media person and his advancement in department rank after allegations were leveled against him.
An investigation provided to The Bulletin on Monday revealed repeated instances in which Carney had sex with city employees — technically subordinates, since he outranked them, though none worked directly under his command — both on and off duty, in places such as Carney’s office, police department bathrooms and storage areas, substations, patrol cars and personal residences, for many years of his career. During the investigation Carney repeatedly lied to investigators or withheld information, according to the report. He also spoke about the investigation after being instructed not to do so.
Carney, who did not return repeated calls for comment, resigned effective Jan. 12 before the internal investigation concluded. He was placed on paid administrative leave effective Oct. 31, 2013. City salary data indicates Carney’s actual pay from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013 was $106,840, including $2,254 in overtime pay. He was not offered a severance package upon his departure, but was paid $12,179.88 for vacation time already accrued, according to Assistant City Attorney Gary Firestone. Carney gets to keep whatever pension he had earned at the time of his resignation, Police Chief Jeff Sale said.
Firestone said all city employees are given due process in disciplinary matters, during which an investigation is conducted, the investigators make a recommendation as to what action should be taken and a hearing is held to determine final discipline.
In Carney’s case, Lt. Ben Gregory completed the investigation in December. The information was then given to Capt. Kenneth Stenkamp for review. Stenkamp wrote in an email to Sale, “Based on the severity of the policy and values violations, the repetitive nature of the violation, the untruthfulness, and the failure of training or discipline to stop the behavior I recommend that Lt. Chris Carney’s employment with the Bend Police Department be terminated.”
Carney resigned before Sale could make his decision.
Sale said the city will “take appropriate action” with the employees who had sex with Carney, both on and off duty, but wouldn’t go into detail about what those actions would be.
King said he is conducting his own investigation into the department and expects to conclude it in the next few weeks.
“There has been no discipline imposed at this time, but I wouldn’t rule that out,” King said. “This is something that’s evolving and I think there will be some changes as a result.”
At this time the three city employees who admitted having sex with Carney — two of whom worked at the police department — are still employed.
According to the internal investigation report the three city employees were promised they would not face disciplinary action if they were truthful in interviews. Two of the three lied initially, but later changed their stories.
“There were issues with truthfulness at the beginning, but they were able to work through it at the end,” Sale said, explaining why the women weren’t disciplined for lying. “The primary focus was that we were dealing with a command-level person. The other people who were involved were not police officers, and that was a prime concern for us.”
One of the issues brought to light during the investigation was that Carney and one of the women traveled to a training event paid for with city money. While there, the two spent the night together in one hotel room even though the department paid for two rooms. Sale said the department would have still paid for the rooms, and questioned whether it was a misuse of funds because both Carney and the woman did their jobs correctly while in attendance.
The report also said Carney admitted to having sex on a public road with one of the women, an act that is illegal and can result in criminal prosecution. Sale said neither Carney nor the woman would face charges because the two-year statute of limitations had expired. Additionally, no one actually witnessed the event, though another employee followed the pair to the location off Reed Market Road and said she believed they were having sex.
“Philosophically, the question becomes is there a crime committed if no one sees it?” Sale said.
A member of the media was also implicated by Carney during the investigation. Sale said the member of the media Carney claimed to have had sex with was never interviewed to confirm the accusations.
“There didn’t appear to be a need,” he said. “We figured out what had happened and because it was not a city employee we didn’t feel we needed to intrude into their life any more than necessary.”
Sale said whether or not it is the city’s responsibility to inform the journalist’s employer is a question he will put to his legal advisers. Sale and King declined to disclose the media person’s identity.
The Bulletin spoke with Lee Anderson, news director at local TV station KTVZ. Anderson declined to discuss his station’s policy on relations between sources and employees, but said the news station was conducting its own investigation.
“The vagueness has us somewhat troubled,” he said. “We are well involved in getting the story out, too.”
Phil Busse, editor of The Source Weekly, said he was sure none of his three-person staff was involved with Carney. Calls to local radio outlet KBND were not returned.
The allegations against Carney weren’t restricted to the four women involved in the investigation that caused him to resign. He “shows a pattern and practice of developing sexual relationships with females that he meets through his employment as a member of the Bend Police Department,” Stenkamp wrote in his post-investigation memo to Sale.
In an October 30 email to Capt. Jim Porter obtained through a public records request, a woman whose name was redacted — and who according to an email exchange between Porter and Stenkamp in December 2012 reported to police she had sex with Carney while he was in uniform and on duty in 1995 — wrote she was glad other women were coming forward with information about Carney’s improprieties.
“It’s nice to know that not only, I was telling the truth, but that you know I was,” the email states. “Now I feel like maybe I was the “First” victim. I was so sick that I spoke with a Bend attorney on the phone.”
Carney received a letter of reprimand for this incident and a permanent record of the investigation was included in his personnel file.
Carney was also the subject of a 2008 investigation after a woman accused him of making “unwanted sexual contact” with her at her workplace following a theft. The investigation was later determined “unfounded,” according to the report, though Carney admitted to “meeting her and kissing her while on duty.”.
Carney was hired as a patrol officer in 1992. In 2006 he was promoted to Sergeant, and in 2009 he was assigned as an Administrative Sergeant, according to an employment status history included in the internal affairs report. Carney’s final promotion came in 2011 when he became a Lieutenant.
Sale wasn’t police chief when Carney rose through the ranks at the department, so he declined to speculate why he’d been promoted.
“In an internal affairs investigation if no finding of improper activity is made, it makes it hard to use the information,” Sale said.
With the investigation now public , it could have repercussions at the police department.
“Conceivably it puts every single case he’s testified in in jeopardy,” said Jonathan Ash, a Bend criminal defense attorney. “Something like this could cause any good defense attorney to look back at other cases if there was a question he doesn’t tell the truth.”
Ash said cases in which an officer testifies against a defendant and is instrumental in the defendant’s conviction are often reexamined if the officer’s credibility is called into question.
“I’ve heard of many cases over the years where a defendant is convicted and then had that conviction reviewed, if not overturned,” he said. “It can be a pretty big can of worms.”
Sale and King both said they are unaware of any cases that are currently up for review following Carney’s resignation.
— Reporter: 541-383-0376, email@example.com