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Accused Ex-Officer Had Relationship With Teen Assault Victim

Police department has no formal policy prohibited personnel from becomes friends outside of work with people they meet on the job.

Shawn Wallace resigned his 120,000 a year job as a Walnut Creek police officer and now faces the possibility of criminal prosecution and prison for developing a friendship and having a physical relationship with a teen whose assault he investigated as a detective.

Wallace's attorney, Michael Rains, acknowledged Thursday that his client, who resigned from the Walnut Creek force on Feb. 3, had a short-lived physical relationship with the girl, according to the Contra Costa Times.

Wallace, a 45-year-old divorced father, became acquainted with the girl, now 18, when he investigated a case in which she was an assault victim, Rains told the Times. 

Wallace, arrested the same day he resigned his job, helped ensure that the girl's assailants were prosecuted, Rains said. The two developed a friendship, he helped her find a job, and he also allowed her to live in his home because she had no place else to live. She was at his home when 8-year-old daughter was present. 

After the sexual relationship ended, the two remained friends, and he continued to allow her to live in his home, Rains said. 

Contra Costa County Superior Court records show that Wallace filed to end his nine-year marriage in August 2000, and the divorce becamse final in December 2010, with Wallace receiving full physical custody of the couple''s daughter.  

Police Chief Joel Bryden said the police department has no specific policy on "personnel from having relationships with people they meet on the job." 

Rains said Wallace's friendship with the girl benefitted her.

"She and her family feel that without his intervention in her life she would be a mess today, if not dead," Rains told the TImes. "He has been a very good influence on her life."

Authorities have a different view. After Walnut Creek police arrested Wallace, he was  booked into county jail on counts alleging unlawful sex with someone between the ages of 16 and 18 without force, oral copulation and attempting to dissuade a witness, said Gene Greenwald, chief of inspectors for the Contra Costa district attorney's office. 

No formal charges have been filed against Wallace, who is out on bail. Greenwald said his office is continuing to investigate the case jointly with Walnut Creek police to determine if charges should be filed.

Walnut Creek Police Chief Joel Bryden said Wallace had worked for the department for six and a half years. He was working in patrol at the time he resigned and earning some about $120,00 a year, according to court records. Before his separation he had been living with his wife, also a city of Walnut Creek employee, in Antioch. 

Walnut Creek police officers privately expressed regret about Wallace's arrest without commenting on the case.

Bryden acknowledged that the news about Wallace and could make people wonder if they should trust police officers. Bryden said they should. 

"We in law enforcement do our best to hold anyone accountable and that includes member of law enforcement," he said. "Ninety-nine and nine-tenths of the time, law enforcement officers do a tremendous job and stay out of trouble, like most of the public, and they do a very dangerous job under trying circumstances."

Among notable cases Wallace worked on was helping to find a Walnut Creek girl, now a woman in her early 20s, who had been missing for 14 years after allegedly being abducted by her mother during a bitter custody dispute. Walnut Creek resident Dean Click credited Wallace with helping to find his daughter, Jessica Click Hill, in March 2010. Wallace was the first to interview her after she was found. 

However, the investigation and nature of the allegations against Wallace are reminiscent of another case that Walnut Creek police investigated, that of Mark Christopher Litton, a Miramonte High English teacher arrested in 2009  on suspicion of having unlawful sexual relations with a former underage student.

Litton was living in Walnut Creek at the time of his arrest, and the sexual encounters took place in his Trinity Avenue apartment, according to court records. In May 2010, Litton, once described by students as "creative and inspired," pleaded no contest to charges that he had sex with an underage girl, the blog Crazy in Suburbia reported. 

Litton pleaded no contest to  two charges of statutory rape, two counts of sexual penetration of a person under the age of 18, and one count of oral copulation of a person under the age of 18. For his no-contest plea, Litton was sentenced to two years in state prison but his deal allowed him to avoid having to register as a sex offender.

Deb wainscott February 17, 2011 at 09:10 PM
How sad! Maybe tighter background checks are needed. How does he know this underage? Met via work or lives with?
Ralph Hoffmann February 18, 2011 at 12:41 AM
This wouldn't have happened 50 years ago. Parents, the media, and schools are also partly responsible for teaching their kids not to use alcohol, drugs, and engage in sex outside of marriage.
Julie Mendelsohn February 18, 2011 at 02:50 PM
She was a victim, he investigated the crime, and she subsequently moved in with him because she had no other place to live? Her family kicked her out, when she was underage? Is that legal? Can I kick my minor to the curb? Why wasn't she in the family home? Did she run away? I have no idea what she was a victim of, but the article says assault. Physical assault? Rape? And she has nowhere to live? Again, why wasn't a minor living in the family home?
michael frederick February 18, 2011 at 08:49 PM
Julie, I agree there's a lot more to the story... And, I don't think getting the heart of it from one side's attorney gives a balanced view. However, it does seem odd she wouldn't stay with family. Ralph, I disagree a bit. It might be more prevalent today and your points are well taken but, it's also the case that 50 years ago there was less support for victims to come forward -- just to become publicly victimized again. When it did happen, it was less likely reported... In any case, the thing I do feel good about is that our police are disciplined enough to police themselves. Rather than detracting from their credibility, it increases it. It takes a strong sense of morality and duty to not look the other way for a fellow officer. I'm glad WCPD has such standards.
Bethany February 23, 2011 at 02:11 AM
The WC Police can look the other way and not be happy about finding out one of thier own has broken a law, but be assured that Wallace himself would have been one of those cops that stopped at nothing to convict the average citizen that did exactly what he did. WC police you cannot make this okay in any way shape or form! This man has put many people at risk. How about the guys he sent away for assulting this women, what does that mean for their case? How about anyother cases he was working on ....his credibility is down the toilet! When an investigator breaks the law it doesn't just affect him it can take many other innocent people down. Wait, his attorney says her parents are glad he took her in....well when did it become okay for family's to give the okay to have sex with minors and what kind of family would feel good about this???? I personally don't think this particular cop is reflective of the Walnut Creek force as a whole but he has truly tarnished the department and all cops out there that are honest, hardworking and ethical.
Im4WC February 23, 2011 at 06:26 AM
The actions of one should not incriminate the masses. Don't blame the entire fleet of officers out there doing their jobs because of one dumbass. How many Catholic priests have been in trouble because of things much worse? Flocks of people still attend church. How many teachers have slept with students? Do you not still send your kids off to school? There are millions of honest, hardworking people out there. Just because what we hear in the "news" is almost always bad doesn't mean that's all that's out there. And can you imagine what it would be like to investigate someone you may have trusted or would trust with your life? That path can be torturous for many reasons and, obviously, the masses did the job they were trained for and helped take down one of their own.
Bethany February 23, 2011 at 10:41 PM
I couldn't agree you more regarding how one dumbass can ruin it for the rest and I can see your point about having to investigate someone you had once trusted with your life but officers take a vowel to uphold the law and if they at anytime think they are above or turn their heads when it involves one of their own, then what do we have....corruption! I do give WC PD kudos for making the arrest and moving forward but the jury is still out if this guy will really face the music that the average citizen (i.e. teachers that have done the same thing), who have committed this same type of crime have.
G. Bertolozzi February 24, 2011 at 01:34 AM
This officer taught "Character Counts" in WC elementary schools. What a hypocrite! What possessed him to do this? This had/has "not right" written all over it. And, what about his 8 year old now? HE has legal custody? I am worried for her on many levels. I have to explain this to my kids, who had Officer Wallace teaching them in their class. We have soooo many state and school district rules to follow to "ensure" our children's safety. In my opinion, it's all make-work beaurocracy to avoid lawsuits---not to help ensure that our kids are safe--or our neighbors for that matter.
concerned citizen February 26, 2011 at 01:50 AM
The law does not apply equally to everybody. First of all, his crime should be called what it is. Statutory Rape. Abuse of authority is also a crime I believe is called a color of authority. This person should be prosecuted to the full extend of the law and since he is considered a sexual predator and a register offender, his child should be taken away from him. Intent is the major component of a crime. He had the intent and the knowledge to commit statutory rape. He should be made an example.
concerned citizen February 26, 2011 at 02:32 AM
For God's sake, this guy was making $10,000 dollars per month. He was being paid by taxpayers money. He still is going to collect his pension. What irate is that he put people in jail for the same or for lesser crimes and at this point, the D.A. does not know if he is going to be charged. You pointed out that the Miramonte High School teacher had a similar case and this detective may have been the one that placed him in jail and now the detective may walk free. The reason he resign is to have a spotless record. Shame on him. He victimized the very same people he is supposed to protect.
k.a.l. May 21, 2011 at 05:05 PM
Interesting how you all judge but no one really knows all the facts. The only people who know what really happen is the girl and wallace. Obviously if she is still living with him she must be okay wit everything but also if she was a victim before being a victim myself im sure she would not put herself in the situation again. I think all you people are judging way to fast maybe we should let the girl talk. Have the police or DAs office stated what she said about everything....uh no so everyone stop justin learn the facts first.

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