Articles over the last week:
Blue Lake police chief arrested for alleged rape
[Excerpts] Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen, 53, was arrested in McKinleyville Friday on suspicion of rape. Gundersen was being held at the Humboldt County Jail on $500,000 bail, according to jail personnel Saturday... [Humboldt County District Attorney Paul] Gallegos said Gundersen was arrested on suspicion of rape of a spouse, but he did not know the underlying facts. The charge listed on the arrest list is for suspicion of rape of a spouse "where a person is prevented from resisting by any intoxicating or anesthetic substance, or any controlled substance, and this condition was known, or reasonably should have been known, by the accused." Gundersen's wife is a sergeant on the Blue Lake police force...
No charging decision made in Gundersen case, says DA
Thadeus Greenson and Karen Wilkinson
[Excerpts] District Attorney Paul Gallegos said Monday that his office is investigating allegations of spousal rape made against the Blue Lake police chief that span a couple of years, but no charging decisions have been made... "The information we have is this is not a one-time occurrence," [Humboldt County District Attorney Paul] Gallegos said... District Attorney's Office Chief Investigator Mike Hislop said there is always a worry in cases involving domestic allegations that emotions may run high and people may do irrational things. In this case, where Gundersen carries a firearm, Hislop said extra caution was warranted. Hislop said Gundersen was called Friday night and told the Humboldt County Drug Task Force was going to issue a search warrant in Blue Lake, and officers wanted to meet him at the substation to go over the plan. "When he drove up and walked in, we put our hands on his shoulder and told him, 'Dave, we're got an arrest warrant for you,'" Hislop said. "We tried our best to make sure it was low key, and nobody got hurt, and this was the best way to do it... Gundersen's wife, a Blue Lake police sergeant, has been on leave for several months, Blue Lake City Manager Wiley Buck said. It's unclear whether the circumstances of her leave are work-related, Buck said... Gallegos said after Gundersen was taken into custody, a search warrant was served on his McKinleyville home that led to the seizure of a "lot of stuff"...
In tense meeting, council puts off action on jailed police chief
[Excerpts] To the dismay of residents, the Blue Lake City Council said Tuesday night they could not take any action regarding the arrest and jailing of the city's police chief until its next meeting... Gundersen is currently on paid administrative leave, said City Manager Wiley Buck, bringing groans from the public during a meeting that got tense at times. "Where are we sending the check? To the jail?" asked resident Patty Meger...
"...I believe that the issues that the district attorney are attempting to have evolve into a CRIMinal matter, in fact are intimate family issues best played out in a family law court... I would just simply say that it's our opinion at this stage that the state is intervening into the private lives of uh citizens at their most private moments. We consider that to be wholly inappropriate..."
Gallegos sticks to his guns regarding investigation into Blue Lake police chief (with video)
[Excerpts] Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen's attorney said Tuesday that a bitter custody dispute is likely the genesis of his arrest on suspicion of spousal rape. Arcata attorney Russell Clanton said that Gundersen's current wife told him that she's not a victim, and that she's completely supportive of her husband. She did not attend the press conference and attempts to contact her were unsuccessful. Clanton said that he believes it was Gundersen's ex-wife who alleged his current wife was raped while intoxicated or drugged. Clanton said the chief intends to plead not guilty at his arraignment... "Frankly I think the position is that the state has put their nose into the bedroom of Chief Gundersen and his current wife," Clanton said. District Attorney Paul Gallegos strongly disagreed with Clanton's take. He said Tuesday that he believes Gundersen's current wife is the alleged victim, that she first reported the alleged acts and that his investigators have been in contact with her in recent days. "If we don't have a victim, it seems we wouldn't have probable cause to issue an arrest warrant," Gallegos said. Gundersen's ex-wife works as a legal office assistant at the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office. The office received the initial call from the victim, according to Gallegos, and then forwarded the information and turned the investigation over to the district attorney... Clanton said a 12-year-old son from Gundersen's previous marriage has been staying exclusively with Gundersen and his current wife for about six months... He said the couple engaged in conduct that "has been misinterpreted and in fact has been exaggerated," and is of an intimate nature...
Gundersen hit with 12 counts of rape
John Driscoll and Thadeus Greenson
[Excerpts] Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen was arraigned on 12 counts of spousal rape on Wednesday, along with additional charges of coercing a witness... Gundersen pleaded not guilty to all charges. The claims stretch back to March 2007, with the last instance of alleged rape while the victim was intoxicated or anesthetized occurring on Feb. 7. That's the day before 53-year-old Gundersen was arrested in McKinleyville. A bail hearing was set for today. "We make decisions based on the evidence we have," said Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos. Gallegos said the multiple rape charges all stem from the same victim... Gundersen's attorney Russell Clanton said that he's been told that the information he has received from the investigation is only a small part of what has been collected by the district attorney's office. But he added that his stance has not changed regarding the chief's innocence... Clanton said Tuesday that he believed the claims arose from a custody dispute between Gundersen and his ex-wife. He said that the intimate conduct between Gundersen and his current wife, which is the focus of the investigation, was exaggerated and misinterpreted. Gallegos said that the ex-wife is not involved in the current case, and is not a victim.... Along with the other charges is a claim that Gundersen violated a court order on Feb. 9, and on the same day was in possession of a controlled substance without a prescription. Gallegos was unsure if that possession charge stemmed from an incident that occurred while Gundersen was in custody...
Gundersen custody battle goes back 10 years
[Excerpts] Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen faced allegations of raping his ex-wife as part of a heated custody dispute nearly 10 years ago, court records show. Gundersen's ex-wife claimed in 1999 court records that her then husband put drugs in her food or drink so she couldn't resist his unwanted sexual demands. Gundersen now faces 12 counts of raping his current wife while she was drugged or intoxicated. He pleaded not guilty to all criminal charges filed on Wednesday... Gundersen's ex-wife, who works for the Humboldt County Sheriffs Office as a legal office assistant, is represented by Arcata attorney Joan Gallegos, the wife of Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos...
Judge denies police chief's release
[Excerpts] Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Marilyn Miles denied a request Thursday to release Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen on his own recognizance, citing the seriousness of the charges against him. Gundersen, who appeared in court clad in a red jumpsuit with his hands cuffed in front of him, faces 12 separate counts of spousal rape... He also faces three other charges allegedly committed while in custody: Attempting to prevent a victim from reporting a crime, willfully violating a court order and being in possession of a controlled substance without a prescription. Gundersen pleaded not guilty to all charges on Wednesday. Russell Clanton, Gundersen's attorney, requested that his client be released on his own recognizance because of his long history in law enforcement, his desire to clear his name, his lack of a criminal record, the fact he owns a home in McKinleyville and is responsible for the care of his two teenage children... "I would point out to the court that the alleged victim approached my office to say she in no way fears the defendant's release," Clanton said. Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos opposed Clanton's request, arguing that Gundersen poses an imminent threat to the public, due to the serious nature of the charges and his access to firearms. Gallegos also argued that Gundersen's conduct in custody shows he is a flight risk and could pose a danger to the victim. Gallegos said recorded phone conversations made while Gundersen was in jail show he was making threats to the victim and discussing possible hiding places with a registered sex offender... When Clanton asked the court to reconsider Gundersen's bail, which is set at $500,000, Miles advised Clanton that if she were to reconsider the bail, she would go by the court's bail schedule, which would raise it to $715,000. Clanton retracted the request...