Cop charged with stealing nude photos from suspect's iPhone

A California police officer accused of sending nude photos from DUI suspect's phone to his own and sharing them with other officers has been charged with two felonies.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

Officer Sean Harrington has now been charged with stealing private images from arrestees. ABC 7 Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

It seemed all too believable as it did unbelievable.

A DUI suspect allegedly gave the arresting police officer her iPhone passcode so that she could access her phone numbers.

After the arrest in August, she noticed from her iPad that someone had sent nude images of her from her phone to another phone. On examination, the receiving phone allegedly turned out to be that of Officer Sean Harrington of the California Highway Patrol in Dublin, Calif.

On Friday, Harrington was charged with two felonies. One pertained to the original complainant, only named as Jane Doe No. 1 in court documents. The second involves a different woman, named as Jane Doe No. 2. As many as six images are said to have been stolen.

Harrington's attorney, Michael Rains, told NBC Bay Area that his client regretted his actions. He said: "You talk about paying the price for something you once called a game. You can't pay too much of a price for that, and frankly, it's not over."

Rains added: "The women who were victimized by this deserve to be angry and upset because it's not a game, it's a serious matter."

A text message obtained during investigations of the incident has Harrington texting another officer: "Her body is rocking."

It seems now that Harrington's career is rocky. Rains said that his client had resigned from the force. Two fellow officers who allegedly received pictures sent by Harrington have not been charged, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

It quoted Barry Grove, deputy district attorney for Contra Costa County, as describing their behavior as "unethical, unappealing, and maybe immoral," but not actually illegal.

Richard Madsen, attorney for Jane Doe No.1, believes that officers Robert Hazelwood and Dion Simmons ought to be charged. He told the Mercury News: "It would seem intellectually inconsistent that the knowing and voluntary receipt of those same images would not also constitute criminal activity."

For its part, the CHP distanced itself from Harrington's behavior. Golden Gate Division Chief Avery Browne told the Mercury News: "As an organization we expect the highest level of integrity and moral strength from everyone in the California Highway Patrol, and there is no place in our organization for individuals who chose to manipulate the law and departmental policy for their personal gain."

Whatever sentence Harrington could face if convicted -- it could be as much as three years and 8 months in jail -- the incident only came to light because Jane Doe No. 1 had her iPhone synced to Apple's iCloud. How many more incidents of this kind might there have been where those in a vulnerable position were taken advantage of by police officers who might claim they were just having "fun"?

Last week, MyFoxLA reported that in Altadena, a city in Southern California, where Harrington, Hazelwood and Simmons all used to work, there is suspicion that the very same "fun" may have occurred there.