Friday, February 5 , 2016, 5:31 pm | Fair 66º

Mixed Verdict for Ex-Santa Barbara Cop Charged with Lewd Conduct

Brian Kenneth Sawicki is convicted of destroying evidence and resisting arrest, but acquitted of three other charges

Former Santa Barbara police officer Brian Kenneth Sawicki, right, leaves court Wednesday after being acquitted on lewd-conduct charges, but being found guilty on related counts. With him is his attorney, Michael Scott.
Former Santa Barbara police officer Brian Kenneth Sawicki, right, leaves court Wednesday after being acquitted on lewd-conduct charges, but being found guilty on related counts. With him is his attorney, Michael Scott.  (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

By Gina Potthoff, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @ginapotthoff | updated logo 5:01 p.m. |

A former Santa Barbara police officer received a mixed verdict Wednesday on charges stemming from a 2009 incident during which he allegedly exposed himself to two teenage girls — and engaged in unlawful electronic peeping — at Refugio State Beach.

A jury returned the verdicts in a Santa Maria courtroom about a day after going into deliberations following more three weeks of testimony and closing arguments.

Brian Kenneth Sawicki, 36, 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 the verdict, Santa Maria Superior Court Judge Kay Kuns thanked jurors for their service during the lengthy trial and set sentencing for next Thursday at 8:30 a.m. in Department 3.

Deputy District Attorney Brooke Gerard and Sawicki’s attorney, Michael Scott, declined polling the jurors but both expressed a desire to speak with them about their decisions afterward outside the courtroom.

Scott also requested evidence be returned to Sawicki – the 17 $100 bills found in Sawicki’s truck – but Kuns delayed discussion of that action until sentencing.

Outside the courtroom standing beside Scott, Sawicki was visibly less tense than before the verdict had been read.

“It’s been a long road,” Scott said, smiling as Sawicki echoed his sentiment.

“A long road,” Sawicki said. “Obviously, a relief. Unfortunately, I’ve waited three and a half years for it.”

Even with some charges acquitted, Sawicki said, he still lost a job he loved when he resigned after the incident and law enforcement lost an officer they had invested 12 years in.

“Quite frankly, there were no winners in this case,” Sawicki said. “I’ll accept my punishment as the judge sees fit.“

Sawicki said he has a small business in Santa Barbara and, at this point, has no desire to go back into law enforcement.

“I believe the case should’ve been settled months ago,” Scott said, noting a waste of court resources.

Scott will recommend court probation and minimum fines when Sawicki returns for sentencing, where he faces a maximum of two years in jail and $2,000 in fines for the two charges he was convicted of.

After speaking with attorneys in the case, the jury foreman, who asked not to be identified, called the trial “interesting” and “uncomfortable.”

“It looked like it was going to take a while,” he said, referring to when jurors first went into deliberations Tuesday afternoon.

The foreman said the prosecution hadn’t presented evidence that “beyond a reasonable doubt” proved Sawicki was guilty of the first three counts.

Regarding the electronic peeping charge – Sawicki videotaping unsuspecting Refugio park goers in a dressing and bathroom—the foreman said, “Everyone believed, at least to the reasonable doubt, that he was going to film his girlfriend.”

Jurors were all “on board” with the fact that Sawicki had evaded arrest, he said.

Gerard said she was disappointed that jurors found Sawicki not guilty – although some told her afterward that they had found him “creepy.”

“Although I disagree with the outcome, I am always proud when people give up their time,” Gerard said, holding up her own recently received jury summons. “I was absolutely surprised that they found him not guilty. I believe that the evidence clearly showed that he was guilty of all the charges.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

» on 11.07.12 @ 08:26 PM

Mixed Verdict?  Give me a break.  This is a complete redemption and resounding NOT GUILTY agains Mr. Sawicki.  I know him and the case.  Mr. Sawicki accepted responsibility from the beginning for not stopping for the park ranger, and deleting a video from his camera to protect him and his girlfriend from embarrassing photos.

» on 11.07.12 @ 09:52 PM

Why do the courts allow these DA babes the freedom to blather their slanderous innuendo and moronic, unfounded clearly prejudicial opinions re defendants after a jury verdict is rendered (whether it’s a “guilty” or “not guilty” is besides the point).  For Brooke Gerard to walk outside and start making comments about how the jury found this guy “creepy” is absolutely unconscionable, unprofessional, and just might breech the standards of ethical conduct.
But hey…this is all symptomatic of the ethical morass that is the culture of Joyce Dudley’s corrupt corps of clowns.
Shameful…and if the judges in this town had a set, they’d slap these outrageously inappropriate officers of the court with some sort of contempt citation, for their behavior is certainly contemptible.

» on 11.08.12 @ 11:20 AM

How could $1700 dollars found in his truck be relevant to the case? How could it have been seized in the first place?  More $ tax $ collection for the gimme state.

» on 11.08.12 @ 01:24 PM

JJ Abercrombie, the main problem with the DA’s office is the entire operation has been politicized by its leader. The DA is now a partisan office and, therefore, has an agenda not necessarily compatible with a fair, objective and impartial justice system.

» on 11.08.12 @ 03:12 PM

Ya THINK?  There are City Hall cronies committing DUI hit-and-run felonies getting off on a complete pass (can you say Iya Falcone?) while anonymous citizens are assaulted by rogue cops (can you say Aaron Tudor?) on traffic stops…while anyone with the temerity to reject dishonest plea bargain “deals” from the D.A. is penalized with a long prison term pursuant to unethical gamesmanship in front of juries.  When does this D.A. come up for re-election?  There will be torches in the hands of the mob on State Street calling for an end to this absolutely reign of terror.  Marie Antoinette comes to mind.

» on 11.08.12 @ 03:32 PM

Creepy, indeed…

» on 11.08.12 @ 03:35 PM

JJ, I hope you’re right about SB expressing their disfavor with the DA in the next election, but I am not nearly as confident as you are about our electorate.

» on 11.08.12 @ 06:21 PM

@ JJ… many that post here, you have have no idea what you are talking about. Falcone did not commit a felony. It was a misdemeanor DUI and a misdemeanor hit and run.

» on 11.08.12 @ 06:50 PM

Uh…what was her blood alcohol 3 full hours after her arrest?  She was booked on a misdemeanor as a COURTESY, sir.  Her BAC was such that anyone else would have spent 24 hours in the drunk tank, lost their license for 3-6 months, and been sent to a series of “classes” to educate her on the perils of her behavior and the future consequences of any repetition.  Morever, she was observed by officers at the scene as leaving the scene, which is why they initially charged her with hit-and-run, which is not a misdemeanor.  Again, misdemeanor or felony…I dare you to argue that Ms. Falcone did not receive deferential treatment by the D.A. in this case.  For goodness sakes, the D.A. DROPPED the hit-and-run charge when they had law enforcement personnel eye witnesses and a written report as to their observations.  No other defendant in memory has avoided conviction when eye-witness testimony from police is presented to a jury.  The police commonly extrapolate and prevaricate and extenuate and elaborate upon facts by way of helping the DA clowns “win”...and that’s a fact, Jack.

» on 11.08.12 @ 07:21 PM

JJ, where was the felony in the Falcone case? My understanding is that DUI and hit-and-run are felonies IF someone is injured as a result. Property damage certainly, but I wasn’t aware that anyone was injured in that incident…

» on 11.08.12 @ 07:21 PM

@JJ…...I’m not challenging your assertion that she received special treatment from the DA. I’m telling you that the alleged offenses were both misdemeanors. Blood alcohol levels have nothing to do with the classification of misdeneanor or felony. That is determined based on number of convictions or if an injury resulted. Hit and Run is a misdemeanor as well when only property damage is involved. Its only a felony if someone is injured as a result of the collision that they fled from. So again, you have no idea what you are talking about on the classification (misdemeanor or felony) of the two crimes she was alleged to have committed.

» on 11.09.12 @ 06:13 PM

I think previous comments have ignored the essential issue in Sawicki’s case; This was a case involving an SBPD officer who was arrested by SBSO (a little jurisdictional one-up-manship?, and who subsequently resigned prior to trial. If Sawicki had been in SBPD’s territory when reported and arrested, and if he was still employed by SBPD, this case wouldn’t have existed, and he’d still be an SBPD “officer in good standing” like Aaron Tudor and Kasi Beutel.

» on 11.09.12 @ 07:38 PM

Okay, so I don’t know my midemeanors from my elbow.  But I can read:
V C Section 23536 Penalty First Conviction
Penalty: First Conviction
23536.  (a) If a person is convicted of a first violation of Section 23152, that person shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 96 hours, at least 48 hours of which shall be continuous, nor more than six months, and by a fine of not less than three hundred ninety dollars ($390), nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000).

(b) The court shall order that a person punished under subdivision (a), who is to be punished by imprisonment in the county jail, be imprisoned on days other than days of regular employment of the person, as determined by the court. If the court determines that 48 hours of continuous imprisonment would interfere with the person’s work schedule, the court shall allow the person to serve the imprisonment whenever the person is normally scheduled for time off from work. The court may make this determination based upon a representation from the defendant’s attorney or upon an affidavit or testimony from the defendant.

(c) The person’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle shall be suspended by the department under paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352 or Section 13352.1. The court shall require the person to surrender the driver’s license to the court in accordance with Section 13550.

And there’s more…but the BOTTOM LINE HERE IS: Iya Falcone didn’t do FIVE FREAKING MINUTES OF JAIL TIME.  How do we like them apples, citizens?

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