Kauai police chief seeks
more time to amend
suit against county

Freitas' attorney says records
will show the police commission
was out to fire him

By Anthony Sommer

Margery Bronster, attorney for Kauai Police Chief George Freitas, said late yesterday she planned to ask a federal judge to extend today's deadline for filing a new lawsuit against Kauai County.

In a ruling Jan. 9, U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway dismissed all the claims made by Freitas against Kauai County in his lawsuit. But the judge also noted some of the allegations involved lack of due process in the two written reprimands received by Freitas from the Police Commission.

Mollway said the claims involving the reprimands could not be considered by the court because the lawsuit was filed before the reprimands were issued and Freitas never filed an amended lawsuit.

The judge gave Freitas until yesterday to file an amended complaint including the issues involving the reprimands, saying that if he did not do so, the entire lawsuit would be dead as of today.

Bronster said she would ask for a postponement of today's deadline on the basis that Kauai County has never complied with a demand for the minutes of the Police Commission executive session at which Freitas was placed on involuntary leave.

The content of the meeting records could determine whether the case should be refiled, Bronster said.

Bronster said yesterday that she is convinced the filing of the lawsuit by Freitas was the only reason he has kept his job. She said she believes the still secret commission records will reveal that the plan from the outset was to hunt for an excuse to fire him.

The Police Commission voted on Aug. 10, 2001, to place Freitas on paid leave pending the investigation of complaints made against him by two of his subordinates, Inspector Melvin Morris and Lt. Alvin Seto, both of whom have since retired.

The complaints against Freitas centered on a case investigated by Seto in which a Kauai police officer was charged with sexually molesting his stepdaughter. The officer's wife -- who was the victim's mother -- was prepared to testify that her daughter had a long history of telling lies about people with whom she was angry.

Before the trial, Seto wanted to use a sexual harassment complaint Seto himself had filed against the same officer to persuade the officer's wife to testify against her husband.

Freitas said the sexual harassment complaint was confidential and that it would be illegal for Seto to reveal it to the officer's wife. He refused to allow Seto to show it to her.

The officer's wife testified in defense of her husband and against her daughter at the trial, and the officer was acquitted.

Seto, meanwhile, accused the chief of hindering prosecution.

Freitas sued the county and the Police Commission on Dec. 27, 2001.

After months of investigation, the commission allowed Freitas to return to work on Jan. 7, 2002. It finally made public the list of allegations against Freitas.

On Feb. 7 the commission threw out all the charges against Freitas except for two: that he had given his girlfriend a ride in his police car and that he had yelled at Morris during a private conversation in the chief's office.

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