2.18.2008

McK Press - Rape Case Proceeds Against Blue Lake Police Chief

By Daniel Mintz - Press Staff Writer - 2/19/08

Blue Lake Police Chief Dave Gundersen has been charged with drugging his wife to facilitate raping her, but his attorney has said the alleged victim is actually supporting Gundersen's innocence- which the District Attorney's Office attributes to threats and coercion.

Gundersen, a McKinleyville resident, is in jail and charged with 12 counts of spousal rape through use of an "intoxicating substance," and additional counts of witness coercion, violating a court order and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription followed his arrest. He's being held at county jail on $500,000 bail and has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges. Russ Clanton, his Arcata-based attorney, has said that the case is directly related to Gundersen's family court battle with his ex-wife over the custody of their 12-year-old son, who was living with Gundersen and his wife when the alleged crimes happened.

The case against Gundersen began with his arrest by District Attorney investigators on Feb. 8 at the McKinleyville Sheriff's Substation. At a press conference two days later, District Attorney Paul Gallegos said Gundersen's wife, a sergeant in the Blue Lake Police Department, had notified the county Sheriff's Department of the alleged rapes, which the D.A. says span a period from last March to February.

Gallegos wouldn't comment on whether the alleged rapes took place in the home, but he did say some of the offenses may have taken place in Blue Lake. His investigators searched Gundersen's home and seized many items from it, he continued, adding that "it is not unusual for us to seize computers and such, and it is not unusual for us to discover evidence of criminal activity in computers."

But at a press conference the next day, Clanton said the D.A.'s Office "has put their nose into the bedroom of Chief Gundersen and his current wife" and has failed to realize the link to Gundersen's custody battle with his ex-wife. "Allegations have been made to gain advantage in that particular case that are directed tied to the allegations in this case," said Clanton.

A 1999 court report cited by the Times-Standard daily newspaper includes an allegation by Gundersen's ex-wife that he drugged her and raped her. Clanton said Gundersen's current wife is ready to support him in court.

"Her position is that the allegations are untrue, and that the conduct prescribed in the penal code… in fact are not present between she and her husband," he continued.

But in court and in an interview, Gallegos said that taped phone conversations made during Gundersen's jail stay demonstrate that the chief has attempted to coerce the alleged victim into recanting. Referring to Gundersen's wife as Jane Doe, Gallegos said she has been victimized in various ways.

"Jane Doe is the victim, she is the one who came forward to give us information and she is also the victim of an attempt to dissuade," he said.

In a Thursday, Feb. 14, bail hearing, Clanton indicated Gundersen's wife would support his opposition to the charges and that the taped conversations have been misrepresented by the D.A. Asked about that in an interview, Gallegos said the tapes will be further discussed and perhaps played in court during a preliminary hearing, which is set for Feb. 27.

Will Gundersen's wife support his stance in the case? "If that exists, it will be brought up at the preliminary hearing," said Gallegos. "Whether it's convincing is another thing - but it sounds like something the defense would bring up in court."

Gallegos said he's never met Jane Doe, and has only seen her in photographs and videotaped interviews. Gallegos said he couldn't comment on whether Jane Doe has been interviewed since Gundersen's arraignment and bail hearing, but added that "at the preliminary hearing, one would expect more information."

As he did in court, Gallegos asserted that Gundersen should remain in jail. "We think he's a danger to the community and certainly the community includes Jane Doe," he said.
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One week's coverage:
✓ TS Blue Lake police chief arrested for alleged rape 2/9/08
✓ ER Blue Lake Police Chief arrested on suspicion of rape 2/9/08
✓ TS DA: Allegations stem back a couple years, may have been continual occurrence 2/10/08
✓ ER Blue Lake police chief accused of multiple assaults 2/11/08
✓ TS News spreads quickly in sleepy Blue Lake
✓ KMUD Daniel Mintz interview with Gallegos. Click on KMUD Local News, 6:00 pm edition, Monday, February 11, 2008 6:00 pm
✓ TS No charging decision made in Gundersen case, says DA 2/12/08
✓ TS Attorney: Gundersen claims 'false'
✓ TS Gallegos sticks to his guns regarding investigation into Blue Lake police chief
✓ ER Defense attorney announced for Blue Lake Police Chief 2/13/08
✓ ER Blue Lake residents speak out against police chief 2/13/08
✓ TS Gallegos sticks to his guns regarding investigation into Blue Lake police chief 2/13/08
✓ TS In tense meeting, council puts off action on jailed police chief 2/13/08
✓ TS Gundersen hit with 12 counts of rape
✓ TS Gundersen pleads not guilty to 12 rape charges 2/14/08
✓ ER Police Chief denied release from jail — $500,000 bail stands 2/15/08
✓ TS Judge denies police chief's release 2/15/08
✓ ER Gundersen: No stranger to bumpy roads 2/16/08

BLOGS:
Heraldo - Blue Lake Police Chief Arrested for Rape
The Wasp - Gallegos the Sneak
The Wasp = Correction/Update
The Wasp - Gold stars for Thad and John...but something's amiss
Fred: What???
Fred: Prosecutions
SoHum Parlance - Blue Lake police chief denied OR

BACKGROUND/PAST HISTORY
✓ Legal Defense Fund http://www.porac.org/ldf/articles/february%201%201998.html
Adelanto Showdown: Officers vs Counci February 1998