A former Santa Barbara police officer convicted of destroying evidence and resisting arrest in a lewd-conduct case was sentenced Friday to 10 days in jail.
Brian Kenneth Sawicki also was fined $2,000 and placed on three years probation by Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Kay Kuns during the hearing in Santa Maria.
Sawicki will be allowed to apply to the Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program (SWAP), which involves being assigned to work sites throughout the county in lieu of spending time behind bars.
Last week, a Santa Maria jury returned a mixed verdict on charges stemming from a 2009 incident during which Sawicki, 36, allegedly exposed himself to two teenage girls — and engaged in unlawful electronic peeping —at Refugio State Beach.
Sawicki was acquitted of three misdemeanor charges — annoying or molesting a child, lewd conduct in public, and unlawful electronic peeping.
He was convicted of misdemeanor counts of destroying evidence and resisting arrest.
The case centered on the events of Aug. 10, 2009, when two 13-year-old girls told authorities they thought a man was following them along a trail on a secluded area of Refugio beach.
They testified that they later saw him naked and masturbating on the beach as they approached.
The girls alerted an on-duty state park ranger, who tried to approach Sawicki before he allegedly ran away. He was later caught and arrested.
After hearing his sentence Friday, Sawicki sat emotionless, sporting a trial-long attitude that Kuns said had prompted her to choose the harsher end of punishment.
Sawicki, who resigned after his arrest, faced a maximum of two years in jail and $2,000 in fines for the two charges he was convicted of.
Kuns sided with all of Deputy District Attorney Brook Gerard’s sentencing suggestions, even saying that she would’ve granted further punishment if the prosecution had asked for it.
Kuns granted stay-away orders that stipulate Sawicki cannot have contact with the two teenage girls or their families. Sawicki must also stay away from Refugio Beach, and was ordered to turn over his stealth camera, digital camera and high-tech binoculars.
While Sawicki’s attorney, Michael Scott, conceded that Sawicki did delete an erotic video from his camera and ran from a park ranger, he said Sawicki has already been punished.
“This case had nothing to do with interest in underage girls,” Scott said. “He’s basically been on three years probation since this began. He’ll never work in law enforcement again. His savings are pretty much gone.
“What did he do? He made a mistake. It was a three-minute pursuit; nobody was harmed. He lost a great deal because of his decision to not stop for the ranger.”
Scott said Sawicki had no intention of contacting the girls, but he questioned whether he should have to turn over his electronic devices.
Gerard countered that Sawicki was at a beach that park rangers testified is an area where families often go.
“The defendant resigning his position is not a punishment,” she added.
Kuns agreed, noting that she was also considering Sawicki’s actions in charges that he was acquitted of, as allowed by law.
“The court finds that there were some aggravating circumstances,” Kuns said. “The notion and circumstance of the conduct in this case were disturbing to say the least. The conduct itself was disturbing.”
The judge also said she didn’t believe Sawicki’s testimony was completely truthful, and was upset by the fact that Sawicki so willingly evaded an officer.
“I wasn’t very impressed with Mr. Sawicki’s attitude at times,” Kuns said. “Mr. Sawicki was a police officer. He was going up a hill with a backpack… He would’ve been gone. There was no change in his attitude… I think if Mr. Sawicki wants to sunbath, he’ll have to find a beach much further south or north.”