In February 2009, Newport Beach Police Department Sgt. John Hougan acted honorably by testifying truthfully in a civil lawsuit about how his bosses had discriminated against a fellow officer they erroneously assumed was gay and the abused officer, whose promotions had been sabotaged, won the $1.7 million case.
Police department brass didn't discipline any of the offending, high-ranking officers in the Neil Harvey lawsuit. But Hougan--an acclaimed, low-key, veteran cop with a blemish-free, two-decade record of superb public service--found himself called "traitor" and shunned by other cops eager to win favor from management. A punk in the department even taped a picture of a bomb to his desk.
Strange, unsettling things began happening as well to Hougan's wife, Christine, a veteran police dispatcher in the department. She claims chief Jay Johnson repeatedly violated socially acceptable normals by speaking to her within a few inches of her face, breathing on her neck while she was on duty, making sexually-loaded comments and ridiculing her husband in his absence. Johnson even told others that she harbored wife swapping desires.
The absurdity of the atmosphere inside NBPD is underscored by department officials interrogating Mrs. Hougan for nearly three hours about her alleged desire to participate in wife swapping and strenuously building something akin to a capital murder case against her husband by claiming he purposefully drove over a bird at the beach.
In July 2011, NPBD soiled itself by firing officer Hougan and--what a coincidence!--seven months later discovered reason to terminate his wife.
Officer Hougan filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in July 2012 and this week his wife did so as well.
Newport Beach city manager Dave Kiff and chief Johnson would have the public believe that officer Hougan's testimony in the Harvey case was no factor in the firings. They want us to believe that both Hougans went from outstanding to terrible employees after the Harvey trial. They hope people ignore ample, solid evidence--embarrassing facts contained even in a city-issued report--of NBPD corruption.
Posing as the abused, innocent victim of this tale, Johnson told the Daily Pilot's Jill Cowan that the ex-dispatcher's allegations are "frivolous," "pretty outlandish" and "frustrating."
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Kiff, who has been a city bureaucrat since 1998, volunteered that he's "saddened" for the chief because he's "a family man."
Mrs. Hougan's lawsuit has been assigned to Orange County Superior Court Judge Ron Bauer.
In addition to the Hougans, other ex-NBPD employees suing the department for offensive, entrenched corruption include Craig Frizzell, Steve Shulman and Rob Morton.