The legislation is inspired by the inability of media outlets to obtain information regarding Paso Robles officer Chris McGuire, accused by three women of sexual assault
Today, Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo) announced that his bill to increase transparency surrounding police sexual assault investigations (AB 1599) has been passed by the Assembly. The bill will now move onto the Senate, and will be heard in Senate committees over the summer.
“We passed a landmark police transparency measure in 2018, but a glaring loophole lets bad actors who commit sexual assault under color of law keep records hidden,” said Cunningham. “The public deserves access to investigative records into sexual assault under color of law under tight parameters. AB 1599 will bring transparency to government and help restore the public trust. I am grateful to my Assembly colleagues for their support.”
Under the historic SB 1421 (2018), certain police misconduct records are allowed to be released to the public if an investigation results in a sustained finding. However, many police departments in the state do not complete internal investigations if the officer resigns in the middle of it, thus making those records ineligible to be released.
If signed into law, Cunningham’s AB 1599 would close this loophole by making incomplete sexual assault investigation records due to an officer resignation eligible to be released. The bill is supported by the ACLU, the California News Publishers Association, the California Public Defenders Association and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.
The legislation is inspired by the inability of Central Coast newspapers and media outlets to obtain critical information regarding an alleged sexual assault case involving a City of Paso Robles officer. Paso Robles Officer Chris McGuire was accused by three women of sexual assault, including one case where the officer allegedly used his position of power to force a victim to perform sexual touching. McGuire resigned from the department before the investigation concluded, and media outlets have been rebuffed in their efforts to obtain investigation documents through Public Records Act requests because the investigation was never finished.