TS - Gundersen's wife alleges misconductby law enforcement

☛ TS Gundersen's wife alleges misconduct by law enforcement

In a letter sent to a variety of agencies Wednesday, former Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen's wife is accusing the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office and the Sheriff's Department of civil rights violations, police coercion, false imprisonment and conspiracy

Gundersen was arrested Feb. 8 on suspicion of spousal rape, and now faces a total of 31 charges, including 24 counts of spousal rape with the use of an intoxicant and a charge of forcibly raping a second victim. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts and remains held in the Humboldt County Jail on $1.25 million bail.

From the outset, Gundersen's attorney Russell Clanton has contended the investigation and charges took root in an ongoing and bitter custody battle between Gundersen and his ex-wife. Gundersen's wife's letter, which she said she mailed Wednesday to the Humboldt County Grand Jury, the Attorney General's Office and the United States Attorney's Office, echoes that claim.

In the five-page letter, Gundersen's wife, Jane Doe 1, wrote that she told an investigator on the day of Gundersen's arrest that she hadn't been raped and, at times, contradicts the testimony she gave under oath during Gundersen's preliminary hearing.

Reached Wednesday, District Attorney Paul Gallegos said he doesn't see Jane Doe 1's letter having any impact on Gundersen's case.

”Those agencies that have received this, if they feel it's appropriate they will investigate, and they will have all the information,” Gallegos said, adding that his office hasn't committed any of the offenses alleged in the letter. “(Jane Doe 1) is a victim and she's been victimized, but not by us.”

Clanton declined to comment for this story.

In the letter, Jane Doe 1 claims that she “sarcastically” answered investigators' questions during an interview on the day of Gundersen's arrest, that investigators would not let her leave and that, prior to Gundersen's preliminary hearing, “numerous threats were made including arrest.” She claims was told she didn't have the right to not testify in the case.

Jane Doe 1 also states her belief that Gundersen's ex-wife was behind the entire investigation.

”I believe (his ex-wife) set me up,” she writes.

According to the letter, Gundersen and his ex-wife hold a lot of animosity toward each other after a bitter divorce and an ensuing battle over custody of the couple's two children.

Jane Doe 1 states that Gundersen's ex-wife, an employee with the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department, told her in 2001 that she believed Gundersen had raped her while the two were married -- claims the ex-wife has also made to a court investigator, DA investigators and, most recently, on the stand in a pre-trial hearing in Gundersen's current case.

”Over the years she said things to me, to the effect that Dave would eventually rape me too,” Jane Doe 1 writes in the letter.
According to the letter, things started to come to a head on Jan. 28, when Jane Doe 1 claims Gundersen's ex-wife called her and said she had repeated her rape allegations to her divorce attorney Joan Gallegos -- the wife of District Attorney Paul Gallegos.

”(Gundersen's ex-wife) told me that Joan told her she had discussed the rape with her husband Paul and that he would be willing to prosecute Dave for rape if she wanted,” Jane Doe 1 writes. “(Gundersen's ex-wife), knowing that I wanted a separation from Dave due to our own marital problems, told me that we could use the fact that the (district attorney) was willing to press charges on Dave to get him to leave the county. (Gundersen's ex-wife) and I spoke many times this same day because I was not OK with her blackmailing him.”

Reached Wednesday, Joan Gallegos said she had no discussions with her husband about any rape allegations against Gundersen prior to his Feb. 8 arrest. She added that she only represented Gundersen's ex-wife for several months before stepping down after Gundersen's arrest because of the potential for a conflict of interest.

In the letter, Jane Doe 1 writes that on the morning of Gundersen's arrest she spoke to Gundersen's ex-wife on the phone regarding some photographs Gundersen had taken of Jane Doe 1 while she was asleep. When, later that morning, Jane Doe 1 stopped by the McKinleyville substation where Gundersen's ex-wife works, Gundersen's ex-wife asked her to speak with Lt. Dave Morey, according to the letter.

”I spoke briefly with Lt. Morey regarding an appropriate police response in the event I needed assistance,” Jane Doe 1 writes, adding that the conversation was brief because she had to make it to an appointment with her psychiatrist.

After the appointment, Jane Doe 1 writes, she received a message from Lt. Morey and agreed to meet him at the main sheriff's station. When she arrived around noon, she writes, Morey and two other detectives interviewed her. She claims Morey told her that Gundersen's ex-wife told him of her allegations and that Morey was concerned Gundersen was doing the same thing to Jane Doe 1.

”Knowing that these were (Gundersen's ex-wife's friends), I began answering their questions sarcastically,” she writes. “They asked me if (I) took a sleeping aid at night (and) I told them yes. They asked me how many times I thought Dave has had unconsensual sex with me and I replied 365. During the next six hours they told me they thought Dave was homicidal and suicidal ... . I asked to leave numerous times and they told me no.

”... Seeing that this was getting out of control I told them of (Gundersen's ex-wife's) plan,” Jane Doe 1 writes. “I told them I wanted her to respond so she could explain the situation.”

After returning from taking a blood test, Jane Doe 1 encountered Gundersen's ex-wife, who told her Gundersen was going to be arrested and that “this needs to happen,” according to the letter.

”At this point, I was very confused and extremely emotional,” she writes. “I asked to get my anti-anxiety prescription out of my vehicle, they told me no. (Gundersen's ex-wife) offered me a Valium and I took one. I tried several times to tell the deputies that Dave had not raped me. They said if I was under the influence of a sleeping pill, I was unable to give consent and that constituted rape.”

When Jane Doe 1 was asked to take a sexual assault exam later that day, she refused. In the letter, she claims she told a Sheriff's Department investigator “that Dave had not raped me, that I knew what rape was and that I had not been raped.”

During Gundersen's preliminary hearing, Jane Doe 1 testified that Gundersen had non-consensual sex with her once a month in 2006 and 2007 while she was so intoxicated with the sleeping aid Lunesta and/or other drugs that she could not consent. She also testified, under both direct and cross examination, that the statements she made to law enforcement Feb. 8 were true and that she had been honest with investigators.

Jane Doe 1 also testified during the preliminary hearing that she confronted her husband after finding nude photos he had taken of her while she slept. During that confrontation, she testified, she asked Gundersen to stop having sex with her while she slept and told him that she considered it rape. She then testified that Gundersen did not stop the practice, and that she told (Gundersen's ex-wife) that he was raping her.

Jane Doe 1 also testified that she fears Gundersen and that the former police chief had threatened to “take her fishing” if she went to law enforcement with rape allegations.

But, in the letter, Jane Doe 1 strikes a markedly different tone, saying a court order preventing her from speaking with her husband has been “extremely hard on both of us.”

Jane Doe 1 writes that she learned from her psychiatrist after the preliminary hearing that the effects of Lunesta are light and not so intoxicating as to make her unable to give consent. She also reiterates her belief that this whole case has spawned out of Gundersen's custody battle with his ex-wife.

”I have told the DA, Paul Gallegos, several times that I believe this was a conspiracy between he, his wife, and (Gundersen's ex-wife) in an attempt for (Gundersen's ex-wife) to gain full custody of the kids,” Jane Doe 1 writes. “Her plan worked. Dave was arrested on Feb. 8 and she had an order of full custody on the 11th.”

Joan Gallegos said the conspiracy allegation simply doesn't make sense, as neither she, her client nor Paul Gallegos have benefited in any way from the case.

For his part, Gallegos said the case will simply have to play out in court.

”I've seen what she's written, but I don't know the motivation behind it or the actual author of it,” he said. “We understand she's afraid and we understand the dynamics of these types of cases.”

Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 07/31/2008 01:31:09 AM PDT

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