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Sunday, November 18 , 2018, 4:13 pm | Fair with Haze 64º


Jury Deliberating in Indecent-Exposure Case Against Former Police Officer

The fate of a former Santa Barbara police officer accused of exposing himself to two teenage girls — and engaging in unlawful electronic peeping — at Refugio State Beach in 2009 went into the hands of a Santa Maria jury Tuesday afternoon.

Brian Sawicki
Brian Sawicki

Santa Maria Superior Court Judge Kay Kuns gave jurors their deliberation instructions about 3:30 p.m., after more than three weeks of testimony and the closing arguments of the prosecution and defense. No verdict came back Tuesday.

Brian Kenneth Sawicki, 36, faces five misdemeanor charges of annoying or molesting a child, lewd conduct in public, unlawful electronic peeping, destroying evidence and resisting arrest.

The case centers 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.

Deputy District Attorney Brooke Gerard told the jury Tuesday that they should use common sense to find Sawicki guilty of all counts.

Gerard showed a portion of the erotic video Sawicki claims he made for his girlfriend at the time while he was naked on a secluded part of the beach.

She said it was clear Sawicki, who resigned shortly after his arrest, had crafted his defense with his 12 years of experience on the force. Among his defenses, Gerard said that Sawicki falsely claims he didn’t know the girls were on the beach or intend to be seen.

“The evidence speaks for itself,” Gerard said. “Common sense tells you the defendant is lying.”

Gerard also alleged that Sawicki, a “textbook narcissist,” was very familiar with his video camera and knew he was videotaping unsuspecting Refugio park-goers changing in a bath and dressing room.

She told jurors they should consider the 710 images of young girls found on Sawicki’s computer to prove intent in his charge of child annoying, although Sawicki claims his many house guests are responsible.

“This doesn’t just happen,” Gerard said. “You are the finders of the facts. Both things are not going to be true.”

Sawicki’s attorney, Michael Scott, called the case “overly ambitious” and accused investigators of collecting just enough evidence to paint Sawicki as a “pervert.”

Scott encouraged jurors to consider all witness testimony equally, and to remember that Sawicki’s video shows that the teenage girls stopped and walked away when they saw him and were not visibly upset.

“In their minds, they exaggerated what was going on,” Scott said. “Were they offended? Absolutely. Their vivid imaginations colored the facts.”

Sawicki deleted videos that did not turn out how he intended, Scott said, referring to the dressing room video that was taken by mistake when Sawicki set the camera up to record his girlfriend performing oral sex on him.

“The investigation in this case is slanted,” Scott said. “The conduct was not directed at the girls. He didn’t even know they were there. He has been charged with crimes he did not commit.”

Gerard pointed out Scott’s misstatements during her rebuttal, reiterating Sawicki’s guilt and the fact that he ran from law enforcement.

She showed a portion of the video again — Scott also showed a portion — and said it appeared the only area of Sawicki that was “shining” from rubbing his tanning lotion was his penis.

“I think the girls’ reaction is completely consistent,” Gerard said.

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.

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