Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

Monday Update – NBC Boston

By meerna Jun25,2024
Monday Update – NBC Boston

A new forensic report into the death of a pregnant woman who authorities say had relationships with three Stoughton police officers, including one when she was a girl, has left the department’s chief “deeply concerned and distressed,” an official said Monday.

This is the latest in the death of Sandra Birchmore, who as a teenager met three officers through the Stoughton Police Department’s Youth Explorer program and who investigators say died by suicide, no crime.

Stoughton Police Chief Donna McNamara issued a statement to the Stoughton community Monday regarding a new report that she says was released by a pathologist hired by Birchmore’s family as part of a civil lawsuit against the city

NBC10 Boston has not reviewed the report, but The Boston Globe reported Monday that New York City’s former chief medical examiner concluded that Birchmore’s death was a homicide, not a suicide. Without mentioning her findings, McNamara said the report required further high-level analysis.

“I was deeply disturbed and disturbed by what I read. While I am not a trained medical examiner and am not qualified to draw any direct conclusions, the findings certainly warrant further investigation at the highest level. As always, we will continue to support us in all our efforts to ensure that truth and justice prevail,” McNamara wrote in her letter.

Read her full statement below.

On Monday, a spokesman for the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office said multiple law enforcement agencies were still reviewing information obtained in the investigation, which remains open. A state police representative wrote in an email that it would be “inappropriate” to comment on the case, citing the ongoing investigation and the family’s lawsuit.

An internal investigation by Stoughton police shows three former officers are accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a woman who later became pregnant and died by suicide. The Abington Police Department confirmed it is aware of alleged misconduct by an officer.

The three Stoughton officers accused of having an inappropriate relationship with Birchmore, who was 23 when she died, were Matthew Farwell, William Farwell and Robert Devine, McNamara said at a September 2022 news conference when she announced the results of the department’s internal affairs investigation. They all resigned before being interviewed during the investigation.

She also said a fourth person, who took a job with another police department, was also accused of having an inappropriate relationship with Birchmore.

No criminal charges have been brought against the officers named in this case. They denied the allegations against them in a civil lawsuit filed by the Birchmore estate, which also named the town and Stoughton police, alleging “wrongful death, negligence, failure to supervise, negligent confinement, pain and suffering and emotional distress” in connection with what they described as a multi-year maintenance program.

A spokesman for the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office previously noted that all three officers named by McNamara were placed on the so-called Brady List, which includes officers whose credibility has been questioned and who have been deemed inappropriate to testify in trials. Additionally, Matthew Farwell, who was accused of having sexual contact with Birchmore when she was a minor, has had her police officer privileges disqualified under state POST regulations.

Birchmore joined the Explorer program at age 13, where she met Matthew Farwell, who was an instructor. McNamara stated that evidence showed that he began an inappropriate relationship with her when she was 15 and he was 27, which would amount to rape under Massachusetts law.

The chief then said that hundreds of messages and explicit conversations between the two had been discovered over several years.

William Farwell, Matthew’s brother, was accused of exchanging explicit messages and photos with her while on duty, in addition to his alleged repeated inappropriate encounters with Birchmore. He was also accused of “at least” trying to introduce Birchmore to other men.

She said at the time that the problem in her department had been rooted out, and on Monday she reiterated that the agency was continuing to cooperate with the investigation into Birchmore’s death: “Sandra has not received even an ounce of justice in her entire life, and we will continue to relentlessly work to ensure that our duty to administer justice, and she will not be forgotten after her death.”

Watch the full statement from Stoughton police in the case of three former officers accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a young woman they met while mentoring her as a teenager, who later committed suicide while pregnant.

The case has shed light on allegations of abuse in the Explorers program, where local police support young people in the community. Last month, the Marshall Project said it had found at least 193 other allegations of law enforcement misconduct, including grooming and sexual abuse, in connection with the Explorers program over the past 50 years.

The Boy Scouts, who created the program, told The Marshall Project at the time they were committed to youth safety and that “appropriate measures” were taken when “a leader of one of our programs abused a position of trust” in charge.

Read the full June 24 statement from Stoughton Police Chief Donna McNamara regarding Sandra Birchmore

On Monday, June 24, 2024, the Stoughton Police Department posted the following statement on its website:

To the Stoughton community,

As part of our ongoing review of the deeply disturbing developments surrounding the life and death of Sandra Birchmore, we have reached out to an attorney as Sandra’s family sues the city of Stoughton.

Sandra’s family hired a pathologist to prepare a report in preparation for the civil lawsuit. We have received and reviewed the report and are aware that the Boston Globe and other media outlets may have also received this report. Below is my statement in response to the report. The Stoughton Police Department is committed to transparency on this matter and we will continue to provide updates as they become available.

As chief of the Stoughton Police Department, I was directly involved in this lengthy and aggressive internal affairs investigation. In September 2022, I published a summary that revealed for the first time the terrible injustices, including the grooming and sexual abuse suffered by Sandra Birchmore at the hands of one dishonest and corrupt former police officer, as well as additional inappropriate sexual relationships at the hands of other former police officers. My mission, guided by both my understanding of the Stoughton Police Department’s policies and procedures and my own moral compass, was to make this process as transparent as possible and that we follow every lead and shed light on all aspects of this terrible chapter in our history , no matter what.

I must make it clear that our police department has no jurisdiction over the investigation of Sandra’s death, which occurred in another community. However, I will reiterate that the Stoughton Police Department has and continues to cooperate with other law enforcement agencies. Sandra did not experience an ounce of justice in her life and we will not cease in our efforts to fulfill our obligation to administer justice, and after her death we will not forget her.

As part of our ongoing collaboration with other agencies, I discovered significant investigative information both during the Stoughton Police Department internal affairs investigation and during mandatory preparations for the ongoing lawsuit filed by Sandra’s family. We have and continue to forward all information to the appropriate agency or agencies.

However, as a police administrator and investigator with many years of experience, I would be remiss if I did not note that I had reviewed the findings of an outside physician employed by Sandra’s family. I was deeply disturbed and disturbed by what I read. While I am not a trained medical examiner and am not qualified to draw any direct conclusions, the findings certainly warrant further investigation at the highest level. As always, we will continue to support all efforts to ensure the victory of truth and justice.

Every good and decent police officer should be aware of the injustices done to Sandra Birchmore and be angry about the injustice. Sandra idolized police officers and what police represent in America, and as a result, she became a victim.

The only mantra for good cops has to be: Never again and never, ever on my watch.

By meerna

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