A former Sacramento-area police officer is under investigation for a series of alleged sexual assaults while on duty in Sacramento and San Mateo counties in recent years, officials confirmed Friday.
No charges have been filed, but authorities confirmed they are investigating allegations against Noah W. Winchester, who has served as an officer with the Sacramento Police Department, the Los Rios Community College District police and, most recently, the San Mateo Police Department.
The allegations against Winchester involve his time as an officer at Los Rios and with the San Mateo department, officials said, and the investigations are currently underway.
Winchester was placed on leave in October from the San Mateo Police Department and subsequently resigned from that post. He could not be reached for comment Friday. Calls to a cellphone listed in his name went directly to voicemail, and messages left there were not returned.
San Mateo Police Chief Susan E. Manheimer announced earlier this month that her department was investigating “serious and grave allegations” related to “sexual impropriety by an officer.”
Manheimer said in a statement that the officer was immediately placed on indefinite leave and had his police powers suspended while the San Mateo County district attorney investigated the case. That investigation is continuing, and Manheimer said the officer resigned before it was completed.
“Although the DA’s criminal investigation is not yet completed, we as an organization recognize that the thought of someone committing criminal acts while wearing an SMPD uniform is deeply troubling and repulsive to this department and its members,” Manheimer said in the May 12 announcement.
Her statement did not identify the officer, but officials confirmed Friday that Winchester is the subject under investigation and that talks are ongoing about how to handle cases in both San Mateo and Sacramento if charges are filed.
Steve Grippi, chief deputy district attorney for Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, said officials in his office are investigating two allegations of sexual assault against Winchester involving his time as a Los Rios officer.
“We do have two potential victims in Sacramento County, and there’s an ongoing investigation,” Grippi said. “It does not appear as though they were students.”
Los Rios spokesman Mitchel Benson confirmed that the college district’s police officials have been in contact with San Mateo investigators but had no details on the case. He said Winchester worked as an officer for Los Rios from Jan. 1, 2009, through Jan. 16, 2015, and left for the San Mateo job because it offered a significant increase in pay.
“Our police department has been in contact with the San Mateo DA’s Office,” Benson said. “All we know is what they are doing.”
Benson said Los Rios officials were told by the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office on Friday that there were no active investigations of Winchester.
Winchester first became involved with law enforcement as an officer with the Sacramento Police Department, although his career there was short-lived.
Department spokesman Sgt. Bryce Heinlein said Winchester was employed from December 2006 through October 2007, when “he was released from employment.”
Heinlein said he could not elaborate on why Winchester left, but said it occurred before he had completed his probation.
Winchester then moved on to the Los Rios department, where he was profiled in a November 2014 article in the American River College student newspaper, The American River Current.
“I will do whatever to keep my students safe,” the newspaper quoted Winchester as saying during a ride-along a student reporter took with the officer.
During Winchester’s time at Los Rios, Sacramento police began a sexual assault investigation of him but no charges were filed. Heinlein said that probe began in 2013 and that Los Rios officials were notified of it at the time.
A second probe of Winchester involving a sexual assault allegation also was conducted by the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department. Sgt. Tony Turnbull said in an email that the probe involved a 2013 incident that was not reported to authorities until 2015, after Winchester had left Los Rios.
No charges have been filed in that case, either, and both investigations remain open.
Benson said he could not discuss personnel issues involving employees, but said “there are no records of Officer Winchester being placed on leave during his tenure as a Los Rios police officer.”
He added that the district investigates all complaints against employees and “would take significant and serious personnel action” if an investigation found wrongdoing.