Five before Midnight

This site is dedicated to the continuous oversight of the Riverside(CA)Police Department, which was formerly overseen by the state attorney general. This blog will hopefully play that role being free of City Hall's micromanagement.
"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget." "You will though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it." --Lewis Carroll


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

RPD officer arrested for sexual battery

A Riverside Police Department officer, Robert Forman, was arrested on charges of sexual assault under the color of authority and sexual battery Wednesday. Am I shocked about this? I don't know but I do feel repulsed that these kind of allegations were even made involving a police officer in Riverside and very saddened. It's always happening elsewhere that police officers get arrested for serious misconduct and it's sure happened enough with about half a dozen cases or more involving Riverside County Sheriff's Department deputies during the past several years. Today, it happened here and the charges against Forman alleged he assaulted three victims earlier this year during a two month period.

I'm not sure I'm really surprised at this because I had heard complaints before about an officer named Forman earlier than 2008 in connection with similar misconduct from a homeless gentleman. In fact, it was probably around 2006 or maybe earlier that this man told me about homeless women who he said were sexually harassed by an individual with this name. At the time, it was confusing, because he didn't seem sure whether this officer was a detective or worked in POPs. And was there more than one Forman in the police department and if so which one was he talking about? He also didn't seem to like Forman very much and related when Forman, the POPs officer had stopped him at least once and allegedly made comments which offended him. But now, an Officer Forman has been arrested on similar charges several years later.

I had tried to get this gentleman to talk to the Community Police Review Commission or the police department about it because any serious allegations of this sort need to be investigated but he didn't seem comfortable with doing that which is not uncommon in homeless people. But if he had, would they listen to him or shown him the door? After all, when Community Police Review Commission member Peter Hubbard makes sarcastic comments about city residents, such as "we all know who the credible ones are here", he's no doubt including homeless people. That they pretty much need not bother telling their sides of events including critical incidents because not only will they never be believed, they as a class aren't worth believing. It's doubtful that any city official is going to be writing him a letter expressing concern about his bias towards people who file complaints or bear witness in incidents involving police officers.

The thing is, you can't force someone to report misconduct that they experience, witness or learn about. It's their decision to use the processes that are available or not but the processes available have to be ones which are truly accessible to everyone in Riverside including homeless individuals. All you can really do is hope that allegations like these are wrong because the alternative is terrible to contemplate but it makes you wonder what happens that you don't hear about or read about because the process isn't as user friendly for everyone as it probably should be.

The sad thing is, allegations like this I do hear from time to time about officers and the thing is, that the only person who can really report it is the person making the allegations. If they are reluctant to say anything (and that can be very understandable if you've ever seen how the women who make allegations like this are treated by the courts), then no one can really do it for them or put them in a position they haven't decided for themselves to be in which is to be part of investigations in a system that's adversarial for them. As hard as it can be to not do it for them because it's a serious situation.

Having sat through preliminary hearings including one involving a Riverside County Sheriff's Department deputy charged with rape under the color of authority in connection with at least four women and seeing women running out of the courtroom screaming the second they're off the witness stand after providing their direct testimony and then being cross-examined and treated like they're the criminals, I can understand why women wouldn't want to report it if it takes place. And I can't really think of one reason why they should until they are treated as victims and not criminals.

The Press Enterprise did cover the Riverside City Council workshop involving the expansion and renovation of the downtown library and museum.


The amount of space Tucker requested differs from a library board vote in late June that endorsed the spirit of recommendations by the Raincross Group, which proposed doubling the size of the Main Library to about 120,000 square feet. The Raincross Group is a 35-member civic advocacy organization.

Tucker said after the meeting that library staff had studied the Main Library's space needs further and come up with the proposal for 100,000 square feet, which the library board approved at its Sept. 22 meeting.

However, Dawn Hassett, a leader of another advocacy group, the Committee to Renew the Library, said she and other members of the group attended the entire Sept. 22 meeting and the board took no formal vote on the 100,000-square-foot proposal.

It was puzzling to read in the Belo Blog about the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court by two unnamed Riverside Police Department lieutenants, mainly because the blog is mostly used for updates in the form of news briefs. And it's odd that this latest lawsuit filed by city employees received fewer inches in the daily newspaper than did this article about the latest lawsuit to be filed by Riverside Code Compliance officers.

Last April, the Press Enterprise wrote this article about the two lieutenants filing a claim against the city that preceded their federal lawsuit.


The claim filed in March alleges that the city tried to "union bust" the organization that represents police lieutenants and captains. In January 2006, lieutenants Tim Bacon and Darryl Hurt joined the political action committee for the union and voiced their concerns.

In June 2006, the union sued the city. According to the claim, City Manager Brad Hudson and Assistant City Manager Tom DeSantis asked for a list of everyone who voted for the lawsuit and told the lieutenants to "be careful."

During last year's City Council elections, the lieutenants opposed Councilman Steve Adams, a retired officer. The claim stated that since then, Adams and Councilman Frank Schiavone have made "negative and retaliatory remarks," including Schiavone telling an officer to distance himself from the pair if he wanted to be promoted and Adams telling an officer that he would not be promoted because he was supporting another candidate.

Both council members called the lawsuit "frivolous."

With all the coverage being given to police officers who file lawsuits against their cities in other places including by the Press Enterprise, it's curious that this one only merited a little news brief. At any rate, if it goes to trial it will probably prove to be a very interesting situation but that's where it must go so that the public will know what really happened and a jury can decide for itself what the truth is.

The RCC Board of Trustees candidates talked about the new chancellor and the budget. One incumbent, Mary Figueroa, was robbed at gunpoint so if you see her, give her a word of support.

Some of the Temecula City Council boosters are a bit peeved that Protect Temecula has filed complaints against some elected officials.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Rescue Temecula "is the only group pushing back against the city," said member and Old Town antique dealer Doc Laine.

But council supporters say Rescue Temecula's charges are groundless and stem from a bitter developer seeking revenge.

"I would say we have to rescue Temecula from Rescue Temecula," said Hotel Palomar owner Carlos Palma.

The group garnered scrutiny this month after a representative filed complaints with the California Fair Political Practices Commission against Mayor Mike Naggar and Councilman Jeff Comerchero.

The complaints allege Comerchero and Naggar violated state conflict-of-interest laws because their actions improperly benefited Dan Stephenson, founder of The Rancon Group, a group of development and real estate firms based in Murrieta. The councilmen have private business ties to Stephenson.

More information on Rescue Temecula is here.

Yesterday, Lake Elsinore's city clerk resigned. Now she's facing criminal charges including

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge last month ordered Vivian Munson to stand trial on charges of misuse of public funds, embezzlement and theft.

Munson, 51, of San Bernardino, resigned as Lake Elsinore city clerk Tuesday. Neither Lake Elsinore officials nor Munson would confirm if her resignation was related to the case.

"She will find out her trial date Oct. 30," said David Demerjian, head of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Public Integrity Division.

Munson, who administered local elections and was the city's chief record keeper, left just three weeks before the Nov. 4 City Council election, 13 months after she was hired.

Munson, reached by phone, declined to comment. Her severance package includes two months' pay, roughly $11,666, and health benefits.

A $15,000 watch will be one of the items discussed in the federal corruption trial of former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona as the presiding judge ruled in the favor of the prosecution to allow it in as evidence.

But most of Carona's racist and sexist remarks caught on tape will be excluded from the trial.

(excerpt, Orange County Register)

U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford concluded that sexual statements involving a third party as well as certain racial remarks would be blocked from the trial because they have no evidentiary value.

However, Guilford ruled that one sexual remark involving Carona's ex-mistress Debra V. Hoffman and two more racial comments would be allowed because they offered context to the government's case.

Defense attorneys had asked that the 10 explosive statements be banned from the prosecution's case because they would unfairly turn the jury against Carona. Prosecutors responded that the statements were not unfairly prejudicial "in light of defendant Carona's overall conduct."

The offensive statements were part of secret recordings made during the summer of 2007 by Carona rainmaker and former Assistant Sheriff Don Haidl, who pleaded guilty to corruption charges and is a witness for the prosecution.

Transcripts of the tapes show Carona bragging about sexual conquests and using the "n-word" to describe inconsequential amounts of money.

In Abbeville, the discussion of creating a new form of civilian oversight over the police department's handling of complaints is taking place.

(excerpt, Index-Journal)

City manager Nolan Wiggins said currently all complaints against the department are investigated by him and Police Chief Neil Henderson. Wiggins said while he and the chief strive to be impartial, the arrangement gives the appearance of “the fox guarding the hen house.”

“We are striving to make this an open, fair, and transparent process that is not intimidating, and will guarantee the public that we are committed to running a professional organization that responds to their needs and concerns,” Wiggins said in a memo to council.

More coverage of what's going on with the Press Enterprise here.

One of his readers waxed on about the sanctity of well, something.

This racist campaign mailer has shown that the Inland Empire has a long way to go in combating racism. It's elicited a lot of response.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

She said she doesn't think in racist terms, pointing out she once supported Republican Alan Keyes, an African-American who previously ran for president.

"I didn't see it the way that it's being taken. I never connected," she said. "It was just food to me. It didn't mean anything else."

She said she also wasn't trying to make a statement linking Obama and food stamps, although her introductory text to the illustration connects the two: "Obama talks about all those presidents that got their names on bills. If elected, what bill would he be on????? Food Stamps, what else!"

Club Member Cries

Sheila Raines, an African-American member of the club, was the first person to complain to Fedele about the newsletter. Raines, of San Bernardino, said she has worked hard to try to convince other minorities to join the Republican Party and now she feels betrayed.

"This is what keeps African-Americans from joining the Republican Party," she said. "I'm really hurt. I cried for 45 minutes."

Let's see, we have the "I had no idea" defense about racist stereotypes and a variation of the "I have a Black friend" defense substituting "I voted for a Black candidate" instead.

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