4.22.2008

TS - 'Jane Doe 2' tells court of rape by Blue Lake chief

'Jane Doe 2' tells court of rape by Blue Lake chief

EUREKA -- District Attorney Paul Gallegos called an alleged rape victim to the stand in his case against Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen on Monday, asking her to reconstruct the alleged gun-point assault during the late 1990s.

The alleged victim, Jane Doe 2, testified at Gundersen's preliminary hearing in Superior Court that she and Gundersen were living together in McKinleyville and planning their wedding when she found out he was still legally married to his now-ex wife.

While they were arguing about it, she said, he grabbed her, pushed her into a back bedroom and attacked her, tearing her clothes.

Jane Doe 2 said she pleaded with Gundersen to close the door when she realized her son and Gundersen's two sons were watching and crying. He shut the door and then began raping her, she said. At one point Gundersen put his gun on the pillow or bedside table, which she testified she saw as a threat.

”I was fearful that he would use it on me and, or, the boys,” she said.

Jane Doe 2 said she filed a report with the Eureka Police Department, wary of reporting it to the Sheriff's Office where Gundersen's wife at the time worked. The department never followed up, she said.

Gundersen is accused of kidnapping the woman at gunpoint with intent to forcibly rape, which could carry a life sentence if he was found guilty. He's also accused of 12 counts of spousal rape against his current wife, Jane Doe 1 -- a sergeant at the Blue Lake Police Department -- as well as coercion of a witness and firearms charges.

The case landed in Judge John Feeney's court after being bumped from the first courtroom and encountering a potential conflict before a second judge Monday. Gundersen, who has been in jail since Feb. 8, appeared in a red jumpsuit used for inmates kept in an isolation unit. Gundersen was uncuffed at his attorney's request, but six bailiffs were on hand as testimony got under way.

When Jane Doe 1 was escorted into the courtroom to be ordered to appear today, DA investigators visually shielded her from Gundersen.

Jane Doe 2 testified she'd graduated from the police academy in the 1990s and worked for a time in Fort Bragg, then was fired from that job. She said that sometime in 1997 or 1998, she believed Gundersen -- then Trinidad police chief -- had offered her a job as an undercover officer. She said she went to the office one day to fill out paperwork, which she believed was the formal start of her employment.

It was, “As business-like as Trinidad ever gets, I suppose,” Jane Doe 2 said.

But she had difficulty recollecting when she was offered the Trinidad job, whether she was ever given a badge, how much she expected to be paid, or whether she'd told anyone she was employed at the department.

In an earlier interview with the Times-Standard, current Trinidad Police Chief Ken Thrailkill said he could find nothing to indicate that Jane Doe 2 ever worked for the department.

At some point, the two became romantically involved, she said.

When Gundersen's attorney Russell Clanton asked her if she'd ever been on assignment with Gundersen, she said she had.

But when Clanton asked her if she'd ever participated in an arrest while on one of those assignments, Jane Doe 2 said she would plead the Fifth Amendment. That prompted Feeney to stop the proceeding until a public defender could be summoned to counsel her.

As Feeney was about to order a break, Gallegos said that his office would offer use immunity to the alleged victim. Use immunity protects a witness from having their testimony used against them. Gallegos has also offered Jane Doe 1 use immunity in the case.

The hearing is set to continue today.

John Driscoll and Thadeus Greenson The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 04/22/2008 01:30:40 AM PDT

John Driscoll can be reached at 441-0504 or jdriscoll@times-standard.com Thadeus Greenson can be reached at 441-0509 or tgreenson at times-standard.com.