Dublin, CA- Former California Highway Patrol officer Sean Harrington was charged Friday with two felonies for allegedly forwarding nude photos from phones of at least two female suspects in his custody to himself and sharing them with other CHP officers.
Harrington, a CHP officer stationed in Dublin, resigned last Wednesday before the charges were filed. He faces 3 years and 8 months in prison if convicted.
Harrington was accused by a 23-year-old woman of stealing content from her phone after she discovered that explicit photos had been forwarded from her iPhone during a DUI arrest in late August. It was alleged that Harrington had also searched the phone of a 19-year-old woman in early August while she was being treated for injuries following a DUI arrest and forwarded explicit photos found on the device.
Harrington later admitted to investigators that he had been trading photos of female suspects with other officers “for several years” and said it was “a game”.
Robert Hazelwood and Dion Simmons, two officers who had received the photos from Harrington and engaged in text messages discussing the photos, have not been charged. Contra Costa deputy district attorney Barry Grove said that while the text message conversations between the three officers are “unethical, unappealing, and maybe immoral,” they do not violate the penal code.
Attorney Richard Madsen Jr., an attorney for the two women accusing Harrington, said in regard to not charging Hazelwood and Simmons that “we respectfully disagree with the interpretation of the evidence pertaining to Officers Hazelwood and Simmons. Given that Harrington is charged with the theft of private images, it would seem intellectually inconsistent that the knowing and voluntary receipt of those same images would not also constitute criminal activity.”
Defense attorney Michael Rains offered a statement on behalf of Harrington issuing “his deepest apologies to the women whose cellular telephones were accessed or reviewed” and noting that he is “embarrassed to have tarnished the reputation of the California Highway Patrol and law enforcement generally.”
Another investigation of Harrington is underway following allegations from a third woman who came forward last week and stated that her cell phone “may have been tampered by Harrington” during an arrest.
The charges against Harrington are available to read here.