When Judge Jeanine B. Nadel calls her courtroom to set order on Friday morning, the benches will be filled with prominent local women.
They say they plan to appear in Mendocino County Superior Court to support one of their own, a former county employee who has sued the police chief – her former fiancé – for alleged abuse.
The case dates back more than a decade, a time when Noble Waidelich rose through the ranks of the Ukiah Police Department, from patrolman to detective to sergeant, lieutenant, captain and finally chief.
Amanda Carley was there for a promotion and two of his Officer of the Year commendations, a time when, she claims, in anger he threw dishes on the floor, slammed them into bookshelves and a refrigerator, and threw her car into oncoming traffic .
She packed up and moved out of the home they owned together with her children in 2015. She left her job and sued her alleged abuser and the county in 2017. Meanwhile, Waidelich continued to rise in the department.
Nadel will decide on Friday whether Carley’s case can go to trial.
Waidelich did not respond to multiple requests for comment. His attorney, James King, declined to speak to the Times. In court documents, Waidelich denied all allegations. Mendocino County Attorney Christian Curtis said he could only comment on procedural issues related to the case and declined to comment further.
The Waidelich case is not the first incident to plague the department. Just this year, the city paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle two lawsuits filed against its officials — one alleging use of force, another alleging sexual assault.
Carley and Waidelich met at the Mendocino County courthouse in 2009 when they were assigned the same case — she was a victim’s witness attorney and he was a detective. Engaged within two months and co-owning a home within a year, Carley said she felt safe and secure.
But soon, she said, she tried to leave him, one failed attempt after another.
“It started with a nudge and he stood in the doorway when I wanted to take a break. Then he threw me on the table, ran into oncoming traffic and threatened to drop me off in the middle of nowhere,” Carley said.
She did not hesitate to share the abuse with her friends and colleagues.
“I saw her at Schat’s Bakery, right across from the courthouse, and she had a black eye, so I asked about it,” recalled Megan Perez, Carley’s former close friend. After Carley said it was Waidelich’s doing, Perez said she told her friend, “At least you’re not protecting him and you’re not hiding it.”
Megan DiFranco, who shared an office with Carley when she worked in the district attorney’s office, said Carley once showed her the bruises.
“I remember getting conflicted because we were contract reporters, but according to them, they were in therapy, so I wasn’t sure if I should say anything,” DiFranco said. She didn’t.
A concerned Ukiah police officer, Freddy Kepplinger, reported the abuse to the police department in 2013, prompting an internal investigation. At the time, Carley said she denied the allegations out of fear he would hurt their two teenage children, Travis Sousa and Madisyn Carley, who were not his.
Two years later, Madisyn unknowingly blurted out to her middle school guidance counselor about the abuse she had witnessed. A further investigation was initiated by the youth protection service of the district.
“I had such a bad depression and it was so exhausting to keep it inside,” Madisyn said. “Our whole life was a facade because in public we had to act like the perfect happy family.”
The disclosure prompted Child Protection Services to interview Madisyn and her mother, after which they determined that a safety plan was needed to keep Waidelich away from Madisyn. The agency notified the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, which opened a criminal investigation into the domestic violence allegations.
In a 47-page case report, Sheriff’s Sgt. Andrew Porter wrote that he believed Amanda Carley would contain and minimize the incidents due to professional and financial concerns.
Carley took her children with her and moved out of the home within two weeks of Child Protective Service intervention. She then gave Porter a detailed account of Waidelich’s abuse.
The sheriff’s investigation continued, but Waidelich was not questioned. The results were sent to Mendocino County Dist. atty C. David Eyster, along with evidence of the injuries Carley had sustained over the years.
However, Eyster declined to pursue criminal charges against Waidelich because, as he wrote in his motion to remove Carley’s plea, “the alleged victim is less than cooperative and presents himself as less than credible” and that some incidents are “too vague were to be prosecuted”.
The district then launched another investigation – this one against Carley – for allegedly lying about whether she was abused.
At this point, Carley was working as an assistant parole officer in the parole department. Her supervisor immediately took the firearm away from her and reassigned her case load.
She was interrogated by the county and threatened with criminal charges for concealing the truth. Waidelich was promoted to corporal.
Taking away your gun seems partial and premature, said George Kirkham, a criminologist at Florida State University and an adviser to more than 50 law enforcement agencies. The investigation that led to the disciplinary action seemed bumpy, he said.
“This was not an objective and thorough investigation in relation to the basic elements of interviewing all parties, examining all evidence, physical or otherwise, and then producing an objective report,” Kirkham said. “The county had an obligation to take action and it certainly wouldn’t mean promoting him.”
After the investigation concluded that Carley “failed to fully disclose information about the domestic violence — which occurred in her relationship with Waidelich — on three separate occasions,” she received a written reprimand for “providing false or misleading information to a law enforcement officer.” . ”
Judy Albert, program director at a Ukiah crisis intervention organization called Project Sanctuary, said it’s difficult for anyone to report domestic violence, but particularly difficult in Ukiah because it “feels very small” and “a lot of people know a lot of people.”
Ukiah is the county seat of Mendocino County with a population of approximately 16,000.
Waidelich, who was promoted to boss in October, is well-liked and seems more approachable than previous bosses, Albert said. He is currently married with two daughters and serves on the board of directors of the county youth project and homeless committee.
Albert, who has worked at Ukiah’s Project Sanctuary for nearly 40 years, said she was aware of about five domestic violence reports involving officers made by the organization.
Victims of domestic violence involving officers face unique challenges when reporting the abuse, studies show, because police know about domestic violence shelter locations, possess deadly weapons and can use their position to defend themselves from legal abusers protect consequences.
Carley filed a complaint against the reprimand, requesting a public hearing to disprove the allegations. The district then withdrew the reprimand.
However, she was never reissued her firearm, and she quit her job in 2016. She later relocated to San Bernardino County, where she filed the complaint.
Troyle Tognoli, a Black Lives Matter activist in Mendocino County who has also set up a public safety advisory board, said she will be in the courtroom on Friday.
“This case is shaking our police and legal community,” Tognoli said. “I want to make sure that situations like this don’t happen again.”
“Our law enforcement community is small,” she said. “When situations like this happen, it’s not like nobody inside knows about it. Lots of people know. It’s just that some couldn’t say anything out of fear or their eyes were pushed aside.”
In early June, the county offered to settle its part of the case for more than $100,000 in attorneys’ fees.
“We’ve come this far,” she said, “and I won’t sacrifice my history and justice for money.”
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-06-10/ukiah-police-chief-accused-of-domestic-violence-rise-through-the-ranks A California police officer was accused of domestic violence. He still rose to be chief