As we noted in today's post about the Denver Police Department's body-camera program announcement, at least eight Denver cops have gotten into trouble in 2014. However, one member of that group -- Officer Stephanie Southard -- appears to be off the hook. Unless her case is appealed, she'll be reinstated after a hearing officer with the Denver Civil Service Commission decided that the claims of on-duty sex made by a former DPD lover are improbable because of his shifting stories, as well as descriptions of sexual acts that sound painful. More photos, a video and the complete report below.
As we've reported, Southard first made headlines in November 2013, after she was charged with misdemeanor harassment owing to a June incident during which she was said to have socked another Denver cop, Nathan Sanchez, after he ended their affair.
An affidavit maintained that Southard walked up to the driver's side of his vehicle in a Glendale parking lot, and at the sight of his wedding ring, she "grabbed and hit Sanchez's face as he turned his head away," knocking off his glasses and leaving a scratch near his eyebrow in the process.
Southard denied this took place and was still on duty up until April 14, at which time she was fired for what CBS4 described as "violating three department regulations including sexual misconduct and lying about having sex on duty."
Her partner in these escapades was reportedly Sanchez, who had already resigned when news about Southard's dismissal broke. He did so after apparently divulging that they'd engaged in sexual activities 25--30 times while on duty.
Southard admitted to having had a relationship with Sanchez but challenged her firing, and in the report below, the hearing officer determined that she should get her job back. The conclusion is based in part on the report's conclusion that Sanchez is "an inveterate liar" -- he was sanctioned by the DPD for "departing from the truth" in 2007 -- whose "statements about sex on duty are as inconsistent as they are improbable."
The report states that "for vaginal penetration to have occurred 25 to 30 times" while Southard was on duty, she and Sanchez "would have had to be at it at least once a week, all the while in full gear and at the ready to respond to dispatched calls.
"Not only is that implausible," the officer continued, but "there is an inherent improbability that Sanchez could access Southard's vagina beneath her clothes while she wore her duty belt."
Sanchez's stories allegedly inconsistent as well. He didn't "clarify" his claim of 25-to-thirty penetrating sex sessions until months after he had said Southard had only touched him through his clothes. He also added that Southard had performed oral sex on him -- an assertion that struck the hearing officer as highly dubious, too. An excerpt reads:
There is an inherent improbability that Southard could do so without unlatching her seat belt, turning 90 degrees to the left, placing her legs outside the door, and putting down her feet where he was standing. According to Sanchez's version, there were two sets of gun belts, one pair of knees, two pairs of legs, two pairs of feet, and all his 260 pounds wedged behind the car door.
In the hearing officer's view, Sanchez "acted like a script writer, making everything up as he went," while Southard's version of events remained reliable throughout and made a lot more sense.
For instance, the report states, "they never sat in the same patrol car as described by Sanchez. They never so much as kissed on duty, according to Southard. It was too risky. Southard credibly testified that it was not feasible for Sanchez to reach through the Ford Interceptor window, unzip her pants, and insert his fingers into her vagina. Even if it could be done, it would hurt."
As such, the hearing officer reinstated Southard, and while an appeal by the city is possible, she'll likely be given her old job back.
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Look below to see a CBS4 package about the latest developments, followed by the complete Civil Service Commission report.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.