San Bernardino Councilman Robert Jenkins was charged Thursday in Riverside County with 30 felony and misdemeanor counts in an alleged Internet stalking case involving his ex-boyfriend and another man.
Jenkins allegedly placed several fraudulent advertisements on the online classified ad website Craigslist seeking sex partners.
He used the name and other personal information of his ex boyfriend, Scott Head, who was flooded with calls from interested parties after the ads were posted, according to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office and a lawsuit filed by Head against Jenkins in Riverside Superior Court in September.
Though an arrest warrant had been issued for Jenkins’ on Wednesday, his attorney, Virginia Blumenthal, said Thursday that she was able to have a bondsman post bond on a $25,000 bail, and Jenkins was not arrested.
Jenkins is scheduled for arraignment on Dec. 17 in Riverside Superior Court.
Blumenthal said she had not yet received any of the investigative reports and other evidence in the case and couldn’t comment in detail.
“I believe very strongly in the factual innocence of our client,” Blumenthal said.
When Head could not get police to investigate, he hired a private investigator and filed the lawsuit in Riverside County in an effort to identify who was harassing him and his boyfriend, David Darquea, the second victim in the criminal case, according to the District Attorney’s Office and the civil lawsuit.
Head alleges in his lawsuit that the harassment started once he began his relationship with Darquea.
“Shortly thereafter, Mr. Head and Mr. Darquea began receiving a barrage of harassing short messaging service (SMS) messages on their cellular telephones,” according to the lawsuit.
Head’s attorney in the civil case, Doug Iler, said he could not comment Thursday.
“This happened very suddenly and I have not had a chance to speak with my client yet,” Iler said.
The investigation revealed that the Internet protocol (IP) addresses associated with the Craigslist ads linked back to Jenkins from various locations, including a computer at his parents’ home in Lone Pine and his place of employment at the Riverside County Office of Education, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Jenkins, a special education teacher at Norte Vista High School in Riverside, has been on unpaid administrative leave since August. He has worked for the Riverside County Office of Education since March 2004, said Rick Peoples, spokesman for the Office of Education.
Jenkins, who was elected to the San Bernardino City Council in a special election in July 2011, after the resignation of Jason Desjardins, also stands accused of creating a false San Bernardino Police Department internal memorandum, using the names of two department employees, Sgt. Tom Bielaszka and Lt. Dario Robinson, as well as city and Police Department seals.
San Bernardino Police Chief Rob Handy said his department had minimal involvement in the investigation and was called upon only to verify whether the memo allegedly created by Jenkins was legitimate. Handy said it wasn’t.
“When people misuse their authority, like our police officers have in the past, or someone misuses our insignia, it’s very concerning and we take it very seriously,” Handy said.
According to an affidavit in support of Jenkins’ arrest, Jenkins claimed to be a victim himself once the allegations against him surfaced in the lawsuit. He claimed to have retained his own private investigator and produced the ersatz police memo with Bielaszka’s and Robinson’s names detailing their receipt of Jenkins’ report of the activity. The memo also bore the date/time stamp from the “Common Council Office, City of San Bernardino.”
When interviewed by investigators, Bielaszka and Robinson said they had never seen the memo, and that it appeared to be a fictitious document, according to the affidavit.
Search warrants served on Verizon Internet Services and Verizon Wireless for the IP addresses linked to the Craigslist ads identified the subscriber as Jenkins, the affidavit said.
Jenkins allegedly posed as Head, communicating with those responding to the phony Craigslist ads and luring them to his alleged victims. His conduct showed “a pattern of trickery and mind games directed at driving the victim who was formerly Jenkins’ dating relationship back into a sexual relationship with him,” according to the affidavit.
The case is being prosecuted in Riverside County because both victims live there, and in identity theft cases jurisdiction does not have to be where the suspect allegedly committed the crime, Riverside County district attorney’s spokesman John Hall said.
San Bernardino City Attorney James F. Penman presented another side to the story Thursday.
“The information that we have is that Mr. Jenkins’ former partner had a key to his house and had access to his e-mail accounts, including his password,” Penman said. “At least one witness allegedly saw an individual that they recognized as Mr. Jenkins’ former partner enter the house on at least one occasion when no one else was at home.”
Penman said Jenkins believes his former partner planted the incriminating material on his computer, which resulted in the criminal charges.
“I have the highest respect for the Riverside D.A.’s office, and I will be reserving forming an opinion on this matter until further information is forthcoming through the judicial process, and I would encourage others to do the same,” Penman said.
He said the criminal charges do not mean Jenkins will have to give up his seat on the City Council.
“Councilman Jenkins has the same rights as everyone in the United States: He’s innocent until proven otherwise,” Penman said.
Blumenthal corroborated Penman’s account of Jenkins’ version of events.
“We do have reason to believe that that statement by Mr. Penman could be very accurate,” Blumenthal said.
When asked to respond to the explanation, Hall would only say, “We have filed the charges we believe appropriate based on the evidence in this case.”
PLEASE SHARE- RePost to Reddit, Digg, Facebook, Twitter, etc. (below)