Whistleblowers’ complaints led Goodyear Police Chief Santiago Rodriguez to reopen an investigation regarding a former Goodyear teacher accused of having sex with at least two of her students.
The West Valley View emailed questions to Rodriguez concerning accusations received by the newspaper, including allegations that the teacher’s close relationship with a Goodyear Police officer shielded her from a proper investigation.
Rodriguez responded to the West Valley View with an Aug. 14 email:
“In your email, you inquired about two teachers and a parent who brought information to your attention regarding a Goodyear teacher having sex with minors. You also indicated concerns that the teacher was being protected by a Goodyear Police officer.
“At this time, the city of Goodyear Police Department has assigned a detective to review this matter and is moving forward with an investigation based on the information disclosed in a recent internal affairs investigation.”
The West Valley View is not naming the teacher, as she has not been charged with any crimes. The allegations against the teacher are believed to be from 2012-13, according to police reports.
After receiving a complaint about how the father of a potential victim was treated by former Deputy Police Chief Justin Hughes (who retired last month), Rodriguez forwarded the matter for investigation to the Gilbert Police Department.
Detective Kevin Shipley, who investigated the matter, found Hughes did not violate department policy and treated the parent respectfully.
But the Gilbert detective found fault with another Goodyear officer.
According to a copy of the investigation the West Valley View received, the father of a potential victim “attempted to report this allegation to School Resource Officer Michael McFadden on May 3, 2018.
“Officer McFadden advised he would not be taking a report on the matter because the complaint had already been investigated and unfounded by the Goodyear Police Department in 2013.”
The Gilbert report states this was the second allegation raised against the same teacher—and that McFadden incorrectly assumed it had been investigated.
Shipley wrote that he interviewed the Goodyear officer who was assigned to work at a high school.
“Officer McFadden explained that he did not take a police report because he researched the report writing system after his first conversation with (name redacted) and located, what he thought was, a completed and unfounded investigation from 2013,” Shipley wrote.
“Officer McFadden acknowledged that he had mistakenly provided the wrong report to (name redacted) and explained that he ‘did not pay enough attention to detail’ and ‘got names confused.’ ... Officer McFadden agreed with this investigator that a report of a teacher having sex with a student is a significant allegation. When asked if he thought about contacting a supervisor or someone assigned to Investigations to brief them on the matter, Officer McFadden said he believes he did contact a supervisor but did not recall who he contacted or what was discussed.”
“The Gilbert Police Department investigation discovered that Corporal McFadden failed to properly investigate or complete a report regarding a criminal allegation.”
After receiving the report, the Goodyear Police Department disciplined McFadden with a “letter of instruction.”
McFadden received three previous letters of instruction for unrelated policy violations and “unsatisfactory performance.”
According to the Gilbert report, the Goodyear Police Department stopped its investigation of the teacher when the potential victims did not come forward.
The West Valley View asked Rodriguez about his department’s policies in these scenarios.
“Regarding any policy where potential abuse victims do not feel comfortable speaking to the Goodyear Police Department, we do not have a written policy per se,” Rodriguez said. “However, if a potential abuse victim stated specifically that he or she did not feel comfortable working with the assigned Goodyear Police Department detective, then we would utilize another agency to assist with victim interviews depending upon the victim’s level of comfort.
“The city currently works closely with local advocacy facilities who house independent experts and other local law enforcement agencies to assist with the case interviews and other aspects of abuse cases.”
Two former teachers and a parent of a potential victim told the West Valley View they do not believe the Goodyear Police Department will investigate the allegations because of the teacher’s relationship with an officer and the way the parent alleges he has been treated by the department.
“The Goodyear Police Department will investigate any allegations of crime which may have occurred, regardless of the victim’s or defendant’s connection to the police department,” Rodriguez said.
“As for conflicts of interest concerning Goodyear Police Department employees, if there is a conflict of interest regarding a potential victim/defendant and a Goodyear investigator, then the Goodyear Police Department would take appropriate action to ensure the investigation is completed in a manner that would remove the conflict.”
Rodriguez has been the city’s police chief since Jerry Geier was suspended in October. When Geier was fired after an investigation, Rodriguez was promoted from acting to permanent police chief.