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Officer Cleared of Molesting Boys Awarded $80,000

January 31, 1985|MARC IGLER | Times Staff Writer

His name has been cleared and he is $80,000 richer, but former Glendale police Sgt. Michael Hailey said Wednesday he would never go back to a career in law enforcement.

Hailey, who was found innocent nearly three months ago of sexually molesting three teen-age boys, has decided not to return to his post as sergeant in charge of the department's special enforcement detail.

Instead, as part of a settlement reached this week, Hailey will receive $70,000 in damages from the city and $10,000 in retirement benefits. He will be technically reinstated to the police force but will immediately resign because "it just wouldn't be the same."

10-Month Ordeal Ended

The settlement ends Hailey's 10-month ordeal that began last April, when he was arrested and charged with molesting the boys whom he had met through his volunteer work at the Glendale YMCA. He was fired from the force immediately after the charges were filed.

In exchange for the city's payments, Hailey agreed not to sue or take his case for reinstatement to a Civil Service panel.

"I just don't think I can return and have to see the things that I saw," he said, referring to what he claimed is the occasional practice of writing police reports that overstate the evidence against suspects. "Realistically, working in that type of atmosphere just wouldn't make it."

Speaking in his lawyer's office Wednesday, Hailey, 35, said he has mixed emotions about the settlement.

"In one sense, I'm glad there's nothing still hanging over my head, and I can get on with my life," Hailey said. "But in another sense, there are 15 years of my life that have sort of been edited out."

Mayor's Statement

In a prepared statement following the City Council's 4-1 vote approving the settlement, Glendale Mayor Carroll Parcher said Tuesday night, "This agreement is in the best interest of all concerned--the city, the community, the Police Department, the boys involved and Mr. Hailey."

The statement added, "The city's decision will eliminate the time and expense of following the matter to a conclusion in the courts. . . . The city stands firmly behind the Police Department and its handling of both the criminal and administrative investigation of Mr. Hailey's conduct."

Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg voted against the settlement, maintaining that the amount awarded to Hailey was "too high."

"I just felt it was a matter of principle on how the city should handle it," Bremberg said. "I would have liked to have seen it taken through the Civil Service process." The issue would have gone to a Civil Service hearing if the council had voted against the settlement.

Won't Sue City

The negotiated settlement is the result of nearly three months' negotiations between Hailey's lawyer and the Glendale city attorney's office.

In exchange, Hailey has agreed not to file suit against the city on grounds of defamation, wrongful termination and emotional distress, said his attorney, Lawrence Taylor.

Glendale police spokeswoman Sgt. Diane Phillips said Wednesday that the department will not comment on the case or the settlement.

The cash settlement will come out of the city's general fund for salary benefits, the worker's compensation fund and the liability insurance reserve fund, said Assistant City Atty. Scott Howard.

Hailey has returned to the YMCA, where he is again working as a volunteer basketball coach and counselor, as he has done for much of the last 20 years, although he is unsure what profession he may now pursue.

"I don't know what I'm going to do professionally, but the kids have really given me a vote of confidence," he said.

In addition, Hailey said he will continue with other interests such as writing screenplays about police work and possibly returning to college to acquire his bachelor's degree.

Hailey, a bachelor, has been employed since his arrest as a messenger for a San Fernando Valley fabric company, a job that was offered to him by one of the members of a large group of Glendale residents who have supported him since his arrest. The Friends of Mike Hailey has raised more than $10,000 to pay his attorney's fees.

At the trial that last 2 1/2 weeks, defense attorney Taylor claimed Hailey was the victim of a faulty police investigation. Taylor alleged that Hailey was framed by the police because of his outspoken criticism of top police administrators and certain policies.

Since 1980 Hailey had been editor of The Rap Sheet, the official publication of the Glendale Police Officers Assn. Hailey had frequently written strong editorials critical of management and departmental policies.

During testimony, Taylor caught all three alleged victims in numerous inconsistencies. Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard Healy argued that none of them changed the basis of their claims that Hailey had molested them in his apartment between June, 1982, and March of last year.

Taylor also maintained during the trial that all three boys, two of whom were 15 and one 16 at the times they claimed Hailey molested them, lied on the witness stand because they were seeking revenge against the ex-sergeant. Hailey worked on a burglary case involving one of the boys, had criticized another's performance as a YMCA camp counselor and sided against the third in family disputes.

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