A Lewiston police officer could lose his certification following an investigation that alleged inappropriate behavior at a 2010 Halloween party.
According to a report by Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training Standards hearing officer Jay Rosenthal, officer Richard Fuentes was accused of sexual activities with a woman in an elevator during a private party involving city employees at the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport.
Rosenthal’s July 14th report states Fuentes admitted to drinking before and during the party, and entering an elevator with a woman and allegedly performing sexual acts.
The recommendation is made to the Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, which has the final say on decertification and meets in October.
Fuentes’ attorney maintains the acts were consensual, and if Fuentes faces decertification, so should the woman, who is also a Lewiston Police Department employee. He said the woman did not dispute consent until more than a year after the incident.
According to the hearing officer’s report, On May 10, 2011, the woman informed P.O.S.T. the acts were not consensual.
Rosenthal states that the woman demonstrated “a serious laps in memory,” in regard to the incident but he felt her actions indicated she was resisting advances.
Without definitively weighing in on the question of consent, Rosenthal concluded in his opinion that Fuentes violated the Idaho Law Enforcement Code of Conduct and Ethics as well as Lewiston police policies with the behavior.
Lewiston Police Chief Steven Orr said the department investigated the incident and took disciplinary action internally.
Rosenthal’s report stated both Fuentes and the woman received letters of reprimand and Fuentes was suspended for two days without pay.
Fuentes, a seven-year veteran with the department, remains on active duty and Orr said the officer will continue to work unless the P.O.S.T. Council decertifies him when it meets in October. At that point, he would no longer be able to serve as a police officer and would be terminated.
Fuentes’ attorney says he will request that the hearing officer reconsider his recommendation. He has 14 days from the time the hearing officer’s report was released to make the request. The hearing officer has 21 days from the time he receives the appeal to act on the request.