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CHP Officer Who Stole Nudes From Suspects Says He Learned About The 'Game' From Los Angeles CHP Officers

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CHP patrol vehicl (Photo by Chris Yarzab via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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CHP officers in the Bay Area are being accused of trading nude photos stolen from their female suspects' cell phones for years. One of those CHP officers in Dublin told prosecutors that he learned about playing this disturbing "game" while working at a Los Angeles CHP office.

Authorities first got wind of this alleged photo-trading when a 23-year-old San Ramon woman who was arrested for a DUI (identified as Jane Doe 1) noticed on her iPad that six of her cell phone photos of her undressed had been forwarded from her iPhone when she was in custody, according to SF Gate. CHP Officer Sean Harrington, 35, told Contra Costa prosecutors that he sent those photos to his own cell phone and then forwarded them to at least two other CHP officers, according to a search warrant.

The court documents said that Harrington and Dublin CHP officer Robert Hazelwood chatted over text message about Jane Doe 1's appearance. Hazelwood allegedly texted Harrington, "Nudes are always better with the face" and also wrote that her "body is rocking though."

Harrington, who told prosecutors that he had done this to at least six women he arrested over several years, also said he and his fellow officers would send each other photos and then chat about the way these female arrestees looked, according to the affidavit. Harrington said he learned this while he working at a Los Angeles CHP office, and when he was transferred to the Dublin office, he saw others practicing it as well.

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Two years ago, there was a similar incident that occurred in Los Angeles, where two unidentified CHP officers "allegedly accessed information on computers and individuals’ telephones," CHP Chief Avery Browne of the Golden Gate Division said in a statement, according to the L.A. Daily News. There weren't any criminal charges filed against the officers, and there weren't any victims who came forward. One of the officers accused was fired and one quit.

Even though Browne acknowledged this incident, he said prosecutors told him after interviewing witnesses and officers in command at the Dublin office, they don't believe it's a widespread problem among CHP officers.

Browne said that the two officers accused of participating have been removed from duty, and are serving administrative duty while the investigation is ongoing. There is a third officer identified in the affidavit as a witness who has not been removed from duty. Browne called the accusations "disappointing" and "disturbing" in a press conference on Saturday, according to the L.A. Times.

"As an organization, we expect the highest levels of integrity and moral strength from everyone in the California Highway Patrol and there is no place in our organization for such behavior or conduct," he said. "We expect much more and do so and the public does so also."

However, Rick Madsen, the attorney representing Jane Doe 1, doesn't believe that the practice isn't widespread. “This particular instance was only discovered by my client by chance—and it’s a reasonable speculation to imagine how often it has occurred undetected,” Madsen said in a statement. “Who knows how many officers have participated in this so-called ‘game,’ or how many more women have been victimized?”