Former California Highway Patrol officer Sean Harrington pleaded no contest Tuesday to two felony counts of searching the cell phones of female DUI suspects and covertly forwarding intimate photos of the women to himself and other officers.
While the recently resigned officer will not spend a day in jail, he will have to tell residents what he did in a series of community confessionals.
Sean Harrington, the 35-year-old officer at the center of the scandal, was placed on three years of formal felony probation, given a 180-day suspended jail sentence, and will have to make appearances at community violence solutions classes – where he will tell people in attendance what he did. Had the case gone to trial and Harrington been convicted on all counts, he could have faced a maximum prison sentence of three years and eight months.
Harrington, who lives in Martinez and who was based out of the CHP’s Dublin offices at the time of the “phone cracking” incident, resigned from the CHP soon after allegations against him surfaced last year, apologizing to his alleged victim and to his colleagues for his actions at that time.
Cell phone records indicated that Harrington forwarded revealing photos of a woman DUI suspect in custody at the time he had possession of her phone to himself and two colleagues.
Harrington’s actions came to light in October of last year after a 23-year-old San Ramon woman alleged that a number of revealing photos had been covertly accessed and forwarded to a number traced to Harrington while the officer reportedly had the phone in his possession. At the time, Harrington called the practice a “game” among colleagues.
Additional investigation determined that Harrington had also accessed and forwarded photos recorded on the phone of a 19-year-old DUI suspect arrested in Livermore on Aug. 6 – while she was in the hospital – and that he forwarded those pictures to his own phone.