Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Sex harassment charges filed
against Kauai police officer

By Anthony Sommer

LIHUE >> The investigation of Kauai Police Chief George Freitas has taken another turn with the filing of sexual harassment charges against police officer Nelson Gabriel.

Two complaints filed with the Kauai Police Commission against Freitas by Inspector Melvin Morris and Lt. Alvin Seto involve Gabriel.

The Kauai Police Commission voted to place Freitas on "administrative leave" on Aug. 10. Freitas said yesterday he has not been given a list of any specific allegations against him and an investigation that was required to be completed by Oct. 10 is still being conducted.

According to sources, Freitas was accused of "hindering prosecution" of Gabriel in a 1999 case involving 20 felony charges stemming from Gabriel's alleged sexual relationship with an underage female relative. That case was tried last month without a jury.

A decision from Circuit Judge George Masuoka is expected by the end of the month.

Freitas has repeatedly denied any involvement in the investigation of that case, and no mention of any attempt to hinder prosecution was raised at the trial. Seto, the investigating officer, did not take the stand.

Criminal charges involving the second allegation that Freitas "improperly handled" an administrative investigation of a complaint that Gabriel harassed a police dispatcher between May and July of this year came to light yesterday. The charges were filed without any announcement on Oct. 11.

Gabriel has been charged with six petty misdemeanor charges of harassment and a misdemeanor stalking charge in a complaint filed in Kauai District Court. He was served with a summons to appear in court on Nov. 13.

Freitas said yesterday that he handled the sexual harassment case as advised by the Kauai County Attorney's Office.

"When there is a criminal investigation and an administrative investigation of the same incident, the criminal investigation has to move forward first," Freitas said. "Before I left for California (where he was when the commission met to suspend him), I had been told by detectives that they had sent the criminal case forward to the prosecutor's office."

The Kauai Police Commission is scheduled to meet again Friday. Freitas' lawyer, former Attorney General Margery Bronster, is tied up in a trial and will be unable to attend.

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