TS - Gundersen's wife takes the stand, says she lied to investigators

08/14/2008 - The wife of former Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen testified Wednesday in her husband's spousal rape trial that Gundersen never had sex with her against her will and that she lied to investigators.

Gundersen faces two dozen charges of spousal rape with the use of an intoxicant, as well as charges of violating a court order and unlawful firearms possession. He has pleaded not guilty and remains held on $1.25 million bail.

After taking the stand, Darcie Seal requested the court refer to her by her name instead of the Jane Doe title normally used for alleged sexual assault victims. She made the same request to the Times-Standard.

Seal testified that Gundersen never engaged in nonconsensual sex with her and that she was being “sarcastic” when she told investigators he had on the day of her husband's arrest.

”Regardless of the fact of it being sarcastic, was it true?” District Attorney Paul Gallegos asked.

”No,” Seal replied.

”Then it was lie?” Gallegos asked.

”Yes,” Seal answered.

Gallegos then halted her testimony to show the jury a videotape of her Feb. 8 interview with investigators.

Before the video was shown, Seal testified that she only agreed to meet investigators at the Sheriff's station in Eureka to discuss an appropriate police response in the event that “things got heated” between her and Gundersen. She testified that she was under emotional duress and answered investigators' questions sarcastically because she felt she was speaking with the friends of Gundersen's ex-wife, who works at the McKinleyville Sheriff's substation.

”I had no idea I was being recorded or that it was a serious matter,” Seal testified, also saying investigators did not allow her to leave.

Seal testified that she lied to investigators. She only testified that her husband had engaged in nonconsensual sex with her at his preliminary hearing because investigators had convinced her it was rape, she said Wednesday.

Gallegos later asked Seal if she was also being sarcastic when she sent her husband an Aug. 16, 2007, e-mail accusing him of lying to her, using her and raping her.

”I was just pissed off and talking,” Seal responded. “I say things I don't mean.”

Seal and Gundersen's attorney, Russell Clanton, have alleged that investigators detained, coerced, bullied and browbeat Seal into making rape allegations during the Feb. 8 interview. A portion of the interview shown to the jury Wednesday seemed to contradict some of those allegations.

The hour-and-a-half-long interview, approximately an hour of which was shown in court Wednesday, begins with Seal asking Sheriff's Office Lt. Dave Morey, Detective Troy Garey and Sgt. Wayne Hanson if the interview is being recorded. They respond that it is.

Seal sat in the courtroom's first row Wednesday, about 10 feet behind her husband, as the prosecution played the video in which Seal repeatedly uses the word “rape” to describe Gundersen's acts, even saying that he'd confessed about a week earlier that he'd been raping her while she was asleep.

”He just said that he -- he confessed to raping (his ex-wife) and confessed to raping me and said he was sorry,” Seal told investigators in the video. “Just him acknowledging it was pretty awesome to me -- that he admitted to it.”

During the portion of the interview shown Wednesday, Seal repeatedly tells investigators that her husband has had nonconsensual sex with her hundreds of times since 2005 while she was under the influence of Lunesta or marijuana, and that she had confronted him and asked him to stop but he wouldn't. She says numerous times that she considers it rape, at one point even saying she told Gundersen “people go to prison for this for a long time.”

In the video, she also told the investigators Gundersen had threatened to kill her and had recently told her he wanted to “put a gun to his head.”

After hearing Seal tell them that Gundersen raped her, followed her and threatened to “take her fishing,” Hanson, Morey and Garey expressed concerns for Seal's safety and asked her how she would like them to proceed.

”I was really hoping you could have the leverage to make him leave,” Seal said.

”We can't force him to leave, you know that,” Hanson later told Seal.

”Can I?” she asked.

”Yes, if you file this criminal report,” Hanson answered.

In the video, Seal agrees to have the investigators prepare an Emergency Protective Order to keep Gundersen away from her, but seems unsure whether she wants him to be charged or whether she wants the District Attorney's Office involved. At one point she asks investigators if it's something she needed to decide that day, or if she can sleep on it.

”My opinion is yes,” Garey said. “Once he's served with this order, who knows what he's going to do?”

Seal conveys fears to investigators regarding what impact Gundersen's arrest would have on his children, on him and on her. Morey then asks her how she's going to feel 10 years from now if she fails to address what Gundersen is doing to her.

At one point, she tells investigators she wants to keep the matter out of the papers and that she's embarrassed to be in the situation and that her relationship had progressed to that point.

”Then, unembarrass yourself and do something about it,” Morey responded.

The jury is expected to view the remainder of the video when the trial resumes today. Seal is then scheduled to take the stand again.

District Attorney Paul Gallegos asked the court to allow the jury to see a videotape of investigators' initial Feb. 8 interview with David Gundersen's wife Darcie Seal, after Seal gave seemingly conflicting testimony on the stand. What follows are excerpts from the interview, conducted by Humboldt County Sheriff's Office investigators Lt. Dave Morey, Sgt. Wayne Hanson and Detective Troy Garey.

”Absolutely.” -- Darcie Seal, being asked if husband David Gundersen had been having sex with her without her consent

”This has gotten out of hand. There are too many lives at risk.” -- Lt. Dave Morey

”I said 'People go to prison for this for a long time.' He said he knows ... But he feels invincible.” -- Darcie Seal

”Who's going to step up to the plate?” -- Lt. Dave Morey, asking Seal about lodging a criminal complaint

”I think you're in a situation that could become homicidal or suicidal.” -- Lt. Dave Morey

”I call it rape when I'm asleep.” -- Darcie Seal

”I confronted him because it seemed like he got more aroused when I was sleeping. He got more aroused doing something he wasn't supposed to be doing.” -- Darcie Seal

”Consensual sex stopped when he started raping me.” -- Darcie Seal

”You know, I'm not going to tell you how to live your life, but for crying out loud, we've got to do something about this guy.” -- Lt. Dave Morey.

”He has threatened to take me fishing.” -- Darcie Seal, saying Gundersen had threatened her life at one time

”Dave has no business being a police officer, if what you're saying is true, and you know that.” -- Sgt. Wayne Hanson

”He's just taken me down.” -- Darcie Seal, regarding Gundersen.

”He wouldn't stop. I would say, 'Don't touch me,' and he would just wait until I would go to sleep.” Darcie Seal, regarding Gundersen

”I don't feel like I need to protect him, I just don't want to face the guilt that I'm going to feel for what he's going to have to face.” -- Darcie Seal

”Being a cop is all he is, and if that's in jeopardy, things are going to get really, really bad.” -- Darcie Seal

”I don't want other folks going through what you are. One human being should not be able to do that to another human being.” -- Detective Troy Garey

The Witnesses:

DA Chief Investigator Mike Hislop: Testified under cross examination that he was familiar with the military surplus program DRMO, which Gundersen may have used to help him acquire the submachine gun and pistol with an attached silencer he is charged with possessing. Hislop also testified that former Blue Lake City Manager Duane Rigge and outgoing City Manager Wiley Buck told him they had no knowledge of Gundersen buying the firearms in question and that they would not have approved it.

Gundersen's wife Darcie Seal: Testified that she was being “sarcastic” during her interview with investigators that led to Gundersen's arrest, and that she lied to them. Seal also testified that Gundersen has never had sex with her against her will and that she only told investigators she feared her husband after they had convinced her that he was homicidal and suicidal.

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

☛ TS Gundersen's wife takes the stand, says she lied to investigators
Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 08/14/2008 01:31:34 AM PDT