Is James Roberts III Shielded From Justice?

[Moxley Confidential] Huntington Beach police accused of conspiring to protect the ex-cop whose ex-wife claims he violently sodomized her

During an 18-month period beginning in July 2007, a beaten and raped Huntington Beach crime victim landed in a frighteningly bizarre situation. The local police department didn't just ignore her cries for help; it repeatedly aided her assailant.

Shannon Roberts was stalked, falsely imprisoned, assaulted, raped and sodomized by her ex-husband, who threatened to "blow her brains out"—all serious crimes. But police officers didn't care because her ex-husband was a cop.

Those are the sensational allegations she is making in Orange County Superior Court, where she has a pending lawsuit against James Roberts III and six of his onetime colleagues at the Huntington Beach Police Department: chief Kenneth Small and officers Greg Reese, Michael Metoyer, James Hume, Robert Warden and Michael Mello. Through their lawyers, the cops deny any wrongdoing, saying they did not give special treatment to one of their brotherhood.

Yet, according to the lawsuit, officer Roberts was given unofficial carte blanche by the department to commit his crimes. For example, on July 23, 2007, he allegedly called his wife, who had filed for divorce weeks earlier, and said, "If I can't have you, then no one can." The lawsuit further alleges he told Shannon he'd blown up her house. Fearing for herself and her minor son, she reported the threat to Huntington Beach Police Department (HBPD) officials, who, she claims, decided "they would keep the incident off the record."

When she returned home that day, "Shannon discovered that Roberts had used a propane tank to destroy her furniture, walls, granite countertops and personal belongings," the lawsuit states. "The HBPD refused to take a report of the incident or otherwise take any action whatsoever. Instead, HBPD officers fraudulently informed Shannon that Roberts was allowed to destroy the property because it was community property."

Shannon claims Roberts returned to her home the next day, "refused to leave, and held Shannon and Devin [their son] hostage." When she called HBPD for help, she alleges that officers conspired with the assailant to "keep a lid on things," in part by allowing him to "pick which [fellow] HBPD officer he wanted to respond" to the scene—in this case, Mello.

On Halloween 2007, Roberts entered her home without permission, tossed her around by her hair, kicked a bedroom door, destroyed her cell phone, punched her in the eye and raped her while telling Shannon "he owned her and was going to get her pregnant so that they could be a family again," according to the lawsuit.

A few weeks later, an "enraged" and intoxicated Roberts drove to Shannon's home, pummeled her again and said he would "blow her f-ing brains out" if she reported his conduct because he feared losing his cop job, the lawsuit states. "HBPD officers simply gave Roberts a ride home, drove his truck home for him and refused to provide [Shannon] with any assistance . . . or arrest him." According to Shannon, when she reported the rape, callous officers told her "a husband cannot be criminally liable for raping his wife."

The lawsuit claims police ignored at least five other instances of violence or threats, including one in which Roberts told one of Shannon's alarmed male neighbors to mind his own business or risk having "HBPD mess with him."

(Shannon may not have been the only victim. Prosecutors claim they have proof that Roberts beat another woman he was dating. Those charges are included in the criminal case against him.)

By ignoring their duty to provide honest public services, HBPD officers intentionally inflicted emotional distress by their "pervasive cover-up" of Roberts' crimes and should pay damages, Shannon alleges.

A unified front by police is normally enough to crush a citizen's complaint of abuse. Though each year brings plenty of examples of corrupt cops in Southern California local, state and federal law-enforcement agencies, our community still routinely considers a cop's version of events as unimpeachable—even when absurd. I recall one cop who handed taxpayers thousands of dollars in cocktail bills from his own Elks Lodge because he claimed the alcohol was a prop in his undercover investigation of organized crime. In 1977, police unions got then-Governor Jerry Brown to sign a state law that discourages citizen complaints of police abuse and, in most cases, prohibits the public from learning about crooked cops.

But Shannon's situation is unusual. It's not just her word versus the boys in blue. She has a weighty ally: prosecutors inside the Orange County district attorney's office. It's not often that a cop is charged with 20 felonies involving brutal domestic violence, vandalism, criminal threats, false imprisonment, sodomy by force, assault with a deadly weapon and rape.

After his 2009 arrest, Roberts posted a $250,000 bail bond, pleaded not guilty and hired criminal defense lawyer John Barnett, the acclaimed Laguna Beach-based attorney who specializes in representing accused police officers. Barnett is also defending Fullerton cop Manuel Ramos, who faces a second-degree murder charge in the gruesome killing of Kelly Thomas, a 37-year-old homeless man. As presently scheduled, Roberts' criminal trial is set for April 20 in Judge William R. Froeberg's Santa Ana courtroom.

"There's much more to the story" than Shannon's version, Barnett says. He cautioned me to not rely on her veracity. For example, he says, her claims of rape and domestic violence are undermined by her emails and consensual sex after the alleged sexual assault.

Meanwhile, Shannon's hope for justice in her civil lawsuit is teetering on collapse, but not based on the merits. Her Irvine law firm demanded a more profitable fee deal and quit when it didn't get it. The move has pushed the case into limbo. A future jury may never get a chance to decide if unethical HBPD officials tried to protect a deranged member of their force.

At a late-February hearing, Judge John C. Gastelum accepted the firm's resignation and asked Shannon if she'd found new counsel. Visibly distraught, she said multiple lawyers have declined to represent her. A sympathetic-sounding Gastelum gave her 60 days to find new counsel or risk dismissal of her lawsuit. The 36-year-old Roberts—who is no longer with the police department—left the courtroom looking relieved. Sources say he is hoping to get his badge back.

Asked to comment on her experiences, Shannon said she is too afraid to comment because she fears police retaliation.

 

This column appeared in print as "Shield From Justice: Did Huntington Beach police conspire to protect a cop accused of violently sodomizing his ex-wife?"

Show Pages
 
My Voice Nation Help
23 comments
broncobabe
broncobabe

Hey Moxley - here is a quote from a JUROR from the OC Register if you want to sink your slimy little teeth into this one...

Jason D Jones · Costa Mesa, California

Hello everyone! I was a juror on the trial. Like any other case appearing before the courts, there is evidence that the public is not aware of and reporters report what the public wants to hear. I agree with some of the comments but unless you hear the witnesses and the testimony, good luck on making a decisions. The decisions to plea-out early was in the best interests of the defendant but....... you should have hear the ex-wife's testimony. The final decision was fair.

Gen1234
Gen1234

what happened with this case?

USA
USA

Good thing you didn't negate any credibility you may have had by projecting an extremely judgmental attitude. "This guy at first glance appears to be an ass hole of the first magnitude." Really?

Do everyone a favor and take yourself out of the gene pool.

Onecntryqt
Onecntryqt

Can you say bitter ex-wife seeking revenge when she didn't get what she wanted out of the divorce. I know the couple and there are two sides to every story and then there is the TRUTH! No one was with them when all these things supposedly happened. If walls could talk we would know the truth... until then none of us should judge.

florist carrollton
florist carrollton

As presently scheduled, Roberts' criminal trial is set for April 20 in Judge William R. Froeberg's Santa Ana courtroom.

Sam Mohagen
Sam Mohagen

Sharoon don't be afraid fight until the end .we are with you.I know for what u going through my husband is an Lpd officer and my case is pretty much the same like yours.im still fighting for justice .DOMESTIC VIOLENCE .police have to forget about domestic. VIOLENCE IS VIOLENCE .AND VIOLENCE IS A CRIME. get it HBPD ,FPD and LBPD.

Sam Mohagen
Sam Mohagen

Im samara mohagen im on the situaion where my husband is the battering cop.who do you call when the abuser is the police.? and fpd keep cover up all his false reports ,and don't want to relese anything to me but off course they gave him something call privacy courtesy.that's when ur husband as police officer try to kill you , he can hurt ou ,hit you destroy my property.but fpd doesn't know what to do .things are still scaleting every day .but if not body stop him. where i going to end .he ready cross the line with me and my 2 little girls.if someone rad this and can help me .

Chip Douglas
Chip Douglas

Gotta love all the lame F the police comments. How typical. Nothing like stereotyping the entire profession.

At face value, this case is very disturbing. I'd be curious to hear from HBPD why Roberts wasn't immediately suspended. The argument that he was just destroying his own property is pretty weak. No amount of rationalization can justify HBPD's approach to this case. Clearly this guy was out of control. The fact HBPD allowed this guy to remain on duty is disturbing. I'd love to hear HBPD's version of this but of course the city attorney will not let them comment.

Westside Activist
Westside Activist

Gotta love it when someone always takes the side of the police and never admits they may have done horribly wrong. Maybe so many people wouldn't say that if there weren't so many cases out there where the cop committed a crime and their fellow officers helped protect him, and the DA wasn't as aggressive in going after them as they were in going after their victims until he realized there was a videotape of the incident. We know most police are good men that don't approve of this stuff. I don't understand why the honorable cops on any local police force would help these losers. Is the Brotherhood of the Badge stronger then their sense of justice or are they subject to intimidation and fear of reprisal if they don't keep rank? We know some cities have more than their share of abusive cops that seem to take delight in crossing the line. And some cities seem to encourage a 'hard-ass' attitude from their officers. (cough, cough Huntington Beach?) Your job would be a lot easier and people would respect the badge more if you policed yourselves as hard as you police us.

Sam Mohagen
Sam Mohagen

my husband did the same thing commited robbery and destroy paper relevant from my case i even had injury when i called fpd they say is community propety and he can break the t.v stoled my money in a fight pushing me when i just had a surgery and fpd did nothing about it he even did a parental child abduction according to 278.5 of california penal code book.and fpd refused to take my report cause they say this sargent had order from his supervisor if someone with my last name come don't take the report. and fpd told me they don't know what is the california penal code book. bs.fpd knew he can not be close to me cause the restrainent order but they let him just go and live wit his mom like 4 houses away from our house ,then my husband trasfer our marital house in his dad name do a false evition and put my 4 and 8 years old on the street without place to go.

Ron Moore
Ron Moore

BTW, thanks for posting this creep's photo...

Ron Moore
Ron Moore

Maybe the ACLU could help this woman out.

How about Legal Aid Society of Orange County?

Tough to prosecute cops thanks to their bloated unions and the people in our wonderful judicial system that want the world to believe cops do 'no wrong', as the cops themselves always tell us.

Chip Douglas
Chip Douglas

The ability of the ACLU to help in a case of this nature is greatly over estimated. There are many excellent civil lawyers and law firms that specialize in litigation in police misconduct cases.

The union has nothing to do with this case. Roberts was acting way outside the scope of his duties so I would hope his union is not paying for his attorney. I'm sure Robert's fellow union members would be outraged if the union paid. I'd think there would be a recall of the board of directors. The union certainly did not keep Roberts from being prosecuted. Most of this union bashing is ignorance. Unions are concerned with wages and working conditions, not covering for criminal behavior. The fact Rovers was charged with so many crimes shows the unions lack of influence.

Greg Diamond
Greg Diamond

So many people want to shove business onto the ACLU, but so few donate to give them the ability to do it. Legal Aid is also, by design, swamped.

What does this guy's union have to do with it. Is domestic violence now part of the job description? His being a cop is legally irrelevant and while many argue that cops do no wrong on the job few claim that cops can do no wrong in their own time.

Sam Mohagen
Sam Mohagen

Im a wife of long beach police officer .his name is randy mohagen.I was abused for long time ,this occcur behind close doors and gets NOT attention,cause police they don't beat their boss from being late.they know how manipuled the system they had contacts with the d.a and fbi,my case is too complicate, because allmy husband family are sargents,and luthenans,and his sister use to work for fpd which cover up all his crimes i was under survillage cameras at my formely resident which my husband place recording device on the telephones without my knowledge and during a restrainent order .fpd provide him with the key from my house and he came at anytime ,at the court day he brought his body from fpd and from brea to intimitade me and i had to take away my restreaning order 2 times the courts and the police departments left the wife behind if not permanent injury it is reflect is better to dropp the curtains shutt up the public gates and leave the guardian to forget the forgit.for fpd and Lpd .they all cover themselves with what is call proffetional courtesy. in my case several lawyers refused to take my case because the fact he is a police officer .until now im still just a civil court where my husband did 4 reagssiment judges in order to gain child custody .

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Corrupt Criminal Cops deserve DOUBLE the Prison Sentence that an ordinary Citizen would receive for the same crimes !!

Criminal Cops = Scum!

Greg Diamond
Greg Diamond

"She said multiple lawyers have declined to represent her."

That could be because her case (and/or credibility) is weaker than this article suggests, or because they think it will cost too much given the adversary, or because they're afraid of taking on the HBPD, or various other reasons. There are a lot of lawyers in Orange County, though, and more in LA County, and the charges of a battered women are not generally unsympathetic. How many lawyers has she talked to? That's sort of a strange place for the article to end.

There are lots of political groups who would love to tout a credible case along these lines. This is the sort of cause off of which a group can fundraise -- if it is a credible case.

Billyjoelmartin
Billyjoelmartin

damna pigs no matter where you are at in the oc or even the us you cannot trust these pussys. this is the reason why if this shit happens you fire the whold mother fucken police forse because you know others knew this was going on. that fucken pigs should have been shot in the balls and left to bleed why didnt she have a gun or a maching gun to protect herself from these pigs

Lee Jennifer
Lee Jennifer

A friend told me that many rich guys and gorgeous girls like playing on a rich dating site, I joined 3 months ago, and find my lover there, a Banker from NewYork,.Please check my profile on ~~ Ri ch Mi ng le ,С’oM~~~ , and vote for me. Thanks...

MariaDiGovanni
MariaDiGovanni

www.BRAME.BIZ Mr. Moxley, please get in touch with me please Sir. Thank you! Maria Brame DiGiovanni

Scott_park
Scott_park

F#*% dirty cops and the people that protect them. I hope the Judge makes an example out of that P.O.S.

Carl_Edward_Sagan
Carl_Edward_Sagan

Fuck HBPD.

Stan Switek
Stan Switek

Based on the number and seriousness of the charges filed against Roberts it does not appear he is being sheilded.

 
Loading...