Sunday, July 24 , 2016, 12:56 pm | Fog/Mist 69º

  • Follow Noozhawk on LinkedIn
  • Follow Noozhawk on Pinterest
  • Follow Noozhawk on YouTube
 
 
 
 

Local News

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

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.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >