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Ex-fireman won't face sex assault charges

A former Sacramento firefighter accused of sexually assaulting a woman outside a costume ball this month will not face criminal charges, district attorney officials said Thursday.

"Based upon all the information we've received from the Police Department, including the victim's statement and the statements from the firemen that were involved, we do not believe that there is sufficient information to submit charges," said Sacramento County Supervising Deputy District Attorney Don Steed.

The accused firefighter resigned last week, ending a 10-year career with the fire service. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Steed said the woman was informed of the decision Wednesday.

"We approach this from an objective point of view to see what we can prove," Steed said. "From a subjective point of view, she may see it differently, and we have discussed the matter with her."

The firefighter was one of seven members of the Fire Department placed on paid administrative leave after they attended the Porn Star Costume Ball at the Radisson Hotel on July 2.

Six of the firefighters under investigation were on duty at Station 20 in North Sacramento when they told an emergency dispatcher they were "available on radio" and took an engine, grass fire rig and medic vehicle to the party.

A seventh firefighter, who was off duty at the time, also was placed on paid leave for his activity at the Radisson.

The sexual-assault accusation sparked a wider investigation into conduct by fire personnel. City officials are looking into reports of firefighters picking up women while in their engines outside downtown bars and drinking while on duty.

Days after the Porn Star event, Sacramento Fire Chief Julius Cherry ordered firefighters to stay away from bars and social gatherings unless they were responding to an emergency.

The investigation began when a 24-year-old woman told police she had been sexually assaulted by an on-duty firefighter. She alleged the firefighter forced her to perform oral sex in the grass fire rig outside the hotel. Another firefighter was present during the alleged encounter, Steed said.

"The victim's statement in and of itself was insufficient to establish the crime," Steed said. "We do not believe that we can prove that force was involved."

On Monday, fire officials announced two of the firefighters, both on the ambulance the night of the ball, had returned to duty.

A captain, a driver of the engine and two firefighters are on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of the administrative investigation.

Sacramento Fire spokesman Capt. Niko King said Thursday the Fire Department has no comment on the district attorney's decision.

"We feel it was between the district attorney and the firefighter, and we will comment when the administrative investigation is complete," King said.

Brian Rice, president of Sacramento Area Firefighters, Local 522, said he was relieved that charges were not filed, though he feels badly for the former firefighter and the woman who made the accusation.

"Its unfortunate that a person (who) spent 10 years distinguishing himself as a good to exceptional employee had to close his career on this note," Rice said. "He got caught up and did not use the best judgment, and now he's going to pay the consequences for it."


About the Writer

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The Bee's Elizabeth Hume can be reached at (916) 321-1203 or ehume@sacbee.com.

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