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Orange County

Police Say Little on Family's Complaint

Anaheim officer's name and details are withheld after allegation of computer harassment.

August 25, 2004|David Haldane | Times Staff Writer

Anaheim police said Tuesday that they had taken "appropriate action" in response to a couple's complaint that an officer had used their son's computer to send sexually harassing comments to the boy's 17-year-old female classmate.

Officials would not, however, discuss the details, nor identify the officer.

"All I can say is that appropriate action was taken," said Sgt. Rick Martinez, a spokesman for the department.

The officer in question, Martinez added, "is still employed here."

The alleged incident, first reported Tuesday by the Orange County Register, occurred Oct. 8, according to a claim filed against the city by Ana and Michael Eustace along with their son, Antonio.

On that day, the complaint says, Anaheim officers came to the family's residence, in the 1700 block of South Ivanhoe Street, to search it as part of an investigation. At the time, the complaint says, Antonio Eustace, then a high school student, was in his bedroom using a computer to chat on the Internet with the female friend.

The officers ordered him to leave and wait elsewhere in the house while they searched the bedroom, the complaint says. Later, the complaint says, he determined that one or more of the officers had used the computer in his absence to impersonate him while engaging in "sexually harassing comments" to his friend, including asking her breast size.

Those actions, according to the complaint, have caused the family "severe emotional distress, anxiety, upset and anguish, including [the fact that they] have lost all confidence that members of the Anaheim Police Department are there to serve and assist them as obviously this is untrue."

The city rejected the family's claim for damages in June.

On Tuesday, neither the Eustaces nor their attorney could be reached for comment on whether they plan to file a lawsuit.

Damage claims are often precursors to lawsuits.

A separate complaint by the family to the Police Department, meanwhile, resulted in a finding that "some allegations could not be proved or disproved," while "some actions were deemed inappropriate and out of department guidelines," Martinez said.

As far as the Police Department is concerned, he said, "the issue has been completed."

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