A lawsuit just filed in federal court alleges that a now ex-Detective Ronald Bair, of the Fullerton Police Department, demanded sexual favors from a woman in exchange for favorable testimony in a child custody case. The OC Weekly’s Gabriel San Roman summarizes the suit in a September 15 article.
The plaintiff is suing not only the Fullerton Police Department, but also the City of Fullerton and FPD officers who, she alleges, mishandled her complaint against Det. Bair, and “inappropriately, told police detective Ronald Bair about the anonymous complaint, by the plaintiff,” exposing the plaintiff to retaliatory actions against her. The text of the lawsuit is very disturbing, and paints a picture of a vulnerable woman in the midst of a painful custody process who is abused by an officer of the law.
The lawsuit details several alleged instances of sex between Det. Bair and the plaintiff, acts that she claims she felt forced to perform. According to the suit, she eventually told therapists about the alleged abuse, then attempted to make an anonymous complaint against Det. Bair to the FPD.
The lawsuit states:
“Shortly thereafter, detective RONALD BAIR called the plaintiff and threatened her and said that she was going to die. It was obvious that he had been told, by the other defendants, about her ‘anonymous’ complaint about his conduct. He told the plaintiff that he knew that she had a court hearing coming up and that the plaintiff would never see my daughter again. He told the plaintiff that his police buddies would come after her.”
The Fullerton Police Department is not saying why Ronald Bair no longer works for them, but he did in 2013 when the alleged violations, including forced oral sex, are alleged to have occurred. Unlike the cases of the beating death of Kelly Thomas and the serial sexual assaults by former officer Rincon, the actions alleged in this lawsuit are said to have taken place during the tenure of current Fullerton Police Chief Danny Hughes.
Mr. San Ramon’s OC Weekly story helpfully includes a link to an October 2012 story from the now defunct Friends for Fullerton’s Future blog, showing then-Detective Bair speaking during the public comments period of a Fullerton City Council meeting in October of 2012. He demands phone and text records from Council member Bruce Whitaker and then-Council member Travis Kiger, alleging that they had been texting during meetings in volition of the Brown Act—a charge vehemently denied by Mr. Whitaker at the time. Recall that these broadcast allegations took place just prior to the November 2012 City Council elections, when Fullerton’s police union was spending tens of thousands of dollars in a desperate attempt to defeat at least one of these council members and install more compliant candidates in their place. Who knows how much influence Det. Bair’s televised and evidently baseless accusations made in the 29 vote margin that elected Jan Flory, endorsed by the police union, over incumbent Travis Kiger, targeted for defeat by the union? The election of Ms. Flory put an end to any serious discussion of Civilian Police Oversight in Fullerton during the ensuring two years.
If Fullerton had a robust and adequately empowered Civilian Police Commission, would we be seeing this lawsuit now? Such an oversight board, as proposed by POPC, would have received the plaintiff’s disturbing complaints when filed, and might have even acted as a deterrent against officers who believe they might get away with the crimes alleged in the lawsuit because their buddies on the force can be counted on to tip them off if someone is complaining about them.