A threatened girl wants to know why her police assailant is facing no criminal charges.
The good news in this case is that that cop quit his job. He is no longer on the police force.
But how can a police officer who allegedly threatened a girl to coerce her to pose nude for him (assuming he wasn’t planning to do more than that) not face criminal charges? If you threaten someone to engage in sexual activity how is that not sexual assault?
One reason that I would understand was simply the fact that it was the girl’s word against his. If his own voluntary resignation cannot be used in court as evidence that he acknowledged his guilt perhaps it would be too difficult to get a conviction.
But that reason is never mentioned by the New Hampshire Union Leader: “Indecent proposition from New London chief was ‘chilling’ says victim.”
Westfall, who was 18 at the time, was arrested by Seastrand, then 50, on March 2, 2013, as she walked home from a party. She was charged with giving a false name and for being in possession of a beer can.
Four days later, Seastrand called her to the police station. The former chief told Westfall he needed to meet with her alone, and began discussing alternative measures of punishment, like community service, for the misdemeanors.
Westfall, who worked frequently as a babysitter, and who was planning to major in early childhood education, said she grew more scared.
Seastrand explained, she said, that they would go into the basement. “He said would grab the station’s camera to shoot a series of nude photos of me, and then he’d hold it over my head for two years to be sure I didn’t commit another crime,” Westfall said.
“That’s when it was really chilling,” she said. “He’s standing there in uniform, he had his gun strapped on his side.”
Seastrand told her he would deny the whole incident if she told anyone. She asked him to call her father, and she left the police station. She then called a friend, as well as her uncle and aunt, who are both police officers. They told her to write down everything she remembered. Her father, meanwhile, called state police.
Seastrand, who was not reachable for comment, and whose lawyer did not return calls asking for comment, resigned on April 4, 2013, surrendering his certification as a police officer after serving for 27 years.
State prosecutors, while calling Seastrand’s actions “abhorrent behavior and unacceptable behavior for anyone in that type of a position,” did not file criminal charges against him.
They later explained that the only law applicable to the case was the abuse of power statute, under which a public official is guilty of a misdemeanor if he or she knowingly commits an unauthorized act “which purports to be an act of his office” or “knowingly refrains from performing a duty imposed on him by law or clearly inherent in the nature of his office.”
How is that the only law applicable?
Try to get your mind around the legal environment in New Hampshire and probably in many other states. Walking down the street with an empty beer can as an eighteen-year-old is a crime. Posing nude for camera is totally legal. So a cop who used his position and the threat of charges to get a girl to pose nude in the basement (assuming the plan was only to take pictures if she cooperated) is effectively not committing a crime.
And since the cop served twenty-seven years, I suspect he is enjoying his pension.