2.13.2008

TS - Gallegos sticks to his guns regarding investigation into Blue Lake police chief

TS Breaking News/Updated Gallegos sticks to his guns regarding investigation into Blue Lake police chief (with video)

Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen's attorney said Tuesday that a bitter custody dispute is likely the genesis of his arrest on suspicion of spousal rape.

Arcata attorney Russell Clanton said that Gundersen's current wife told him that she's not a victim, and that she's completely supportive of her husband. She did not attend the press conference and attempts to contact her were unsuccessful.

Clanton said that he believes it was Gundersen's ex-wife who alleged his current wife was raped while intoxicated or drugged.

Clanton said the chief intends to plead not guilty at his arraignment, which is expected today, to any charges if they are filed.
”Frankly I think the position is that the state has put their nose into the bedroom of Chief Gundersen and his current wife,” Clanton said.

District Attorney Paul Gallegos strongly disagreed with Clanton's take. He said Tuesday that he believes Gundersen's current wife is the alleged victim, that she first reported the alleged acts and that his investigators have been in contact with her in recent days.

”If we don't have a victim, it seems we wouldn't have probable cause to issue an arrest warrant,” Gallegos said.

Gundersen's ex-wife works as a legal office assistant at the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office. The office received the initial call from the victim, according to Gallegos, and then forwarded the information and turned the investigation over to the district attorney.

Gundersen's current wife is a sergeant at the Blue Lake Police Department and is currently on leave.

Gundersen was arrested on warrants Friday after being called to the sheriff's McKinleyville substation. He's being held in the Humboldt County Jail on $500,000 bail as Gallegos considers charges. Clanton said that Gundersen will ask the judge presiding over today's expected arraignment to release him on his own recognizance. Clanton said he expects the alleged victim to be in court to express support for her husband. Clanton said that Gundersen is paying for his own defense.

Clanton said a 12-year-old son from Gundersen's previous marriage has been staying exclusively with Gundersen and his current wife for about six months, Clanton said.

He said the couple engaged in conduct that “has been misinterpreted and in fact has been exaggerated,” and is of an intimate nature. Clanton asked the community to be mindful of the presumption of innocence and said that Gundersen looks forward to challenging the allegations.

John Driscoll/The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 02/13/2008 01:32:55 AM PST

John Driscoll can be reached at 441-0504 or jdriscoll@times-standard.com.
Includes Video of Clanton's Statement.
ER Defense attorney announced for Blue Lake Police Chief
ER Blue Lake residents speak out against police chief
TS Breaking News/Updated Gallegos sticks to his guns regarding investigation into Blue Lake police chief