Thursday, March 31, 2011
Weeks after a former Salinas police department employee was sentenced to prison for raping a 15-year-old girl, the girl is suing the city of Salinas and seeking unspecified damages to cover child support for a baby conceived during their relationship – even after DNA tests conducted during the criminal trial showed he wasn’t the father.
Scott Callan was the director of the Salinas Police Department’s Explorer Program and met the girl, now 16, when she joined the program in 2009. They had sex regularly for about three months, sometimes during Explorer meetings, according to the complaint filed March 21 in Monterey County Superior Court.
Hollister-based attorney Bill Marder filed the suit on behalf of Sonia Santiago, the victim’s mother. Although the teen is named in the complaint, the Weekly is not naming her because she is a sexual assault victim and a minor. In the criminal proceedings, she was known as Jane Doe.
After the girl became pregnant, rumors about her relationship with Callan spurred a police investigation; he immediately confessed to the relationship. Callan was initially charged with a dozen felonies, but only convicted on two counts of statutory rape after entering into a plea bargain that allows him to avoid registering as a sex offender.
Richard Rosen, Callan’s defense attorney for the criminal proceedings, says Callan was definitively ruled out as the father. Rosen doesn’t yet know whether he will be representing Callan in the civil case.
DNA samples collected from the mother, her baby and Callan were analyzed by a third-party lab under contract with the California Department of Justice, according to the district attorney’s office.
But Marder says his client remains “adamant” Callan is the father, claiming Callan is the only sexual partner she ever had. Marder, who plans to order additional DNA tests, says there is “concern that he was treated more favorably” because of his nine years employed by the SPD.
Child support is “one of the purposes for rigorous enforcement of statutory rape laws. [Minors] are vulnerable, and these guys get them pregnant,” says Marder.
Rosen says that the girl pursued Callan: “The victim herself said that it was her idea and she talked him into it.”
Salinas City Attorney Vanessa Vallarta is still reviewing the complaint, but disputes the lawsuit allegation that the city has a “policy of allowing city employees… to abuse their authority and engage in sexually inappropriate behavior while on duty and acting under color of law.”
As to the question of paternity, likely to be the most significant factor in determining an amount to award the victim, Vallarta says “there will be many factual issues that need to be clarified in the case.”