County Attorney's Office Explains Not Charging Former Cop Christopher Balmaceda With Sexual Abuse
See our story on the County Attorney's decision here.
The MCAO has an explanation.
Following our post about the decision yesterday, MCAO spokesman Jerry Cobb sent us a detailed explanation of his office's decision not to charge Balmaceda.
"It's clear something inappropriate was going on here between a former police officer and a student. Nobody finds that acceptable," Cobb says. "The Maricopa County Attorney has never hesitated to hold law enforcement officers accountable when we can prove they've broken the law. However, in this case our office did not have the necessary evidence to prove a chargeable offense."
For starters, Cobb goes on to say, Balmaceda refused to make any statement and did not consent to be interviewed for the criminal investigation.
Apparently, the only time Balmaceda discussed his alleged crimes was during an internal investigation conducted by the Glendale Police Department, during which he admitted to sending the text messages to several girls and kissing another alleged victim.
As Cobb points out, coerced testimony -- like that given during the internal investigation -- isn't admissible in any criminal case.
The other problem, Cobb says, is that investigators were unable to recover "any of the text messages from the various cell-phone service providers, so we were unable to corroborate the content or context of the messages Balmaceda sent the victim. Without the specific content of the text messages, there was no way to prove Mr. Balmaceda intended to arrange a sexual encounter with a minor, and hence, no way to prove the luring counts."
|Former Glendale police Officer Christopher Balmaceda won't be charged with any crimes, despite admitting to kissing a 17-year-old girl while on duty.|
Cobb says yet another problem with the case was the age of the victim.
Despite the Glendale P.D.'s telling New Times yesterday that it was confident in the case it built against Balmaceda, Cobb says, the detective who led the investigation "fully supports" the MCAO's decision not charge the former cop.
He says finding "identifiable criminal acts," as the Glendale Police Department claims it has, is "not the same thing as finding sufficient evidence to meet the substantial burden of proof the State faces at trial.
"Frustrating though it may be, our office has an ethical and professional obligation not to file charges when there is insufficient evidence, and not to bring cases that have no reasonable likelihood of conviction," Cobb concludes. "It is our hope that at a minimum, the internal investigation can be used to strip Balmaceda of his Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) certification so he can never again serve as a police officer [in Arizona]."