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Thursday, December 24, 2009

[CA] Shannon Roberts' lawsuit cites "a concerted conspiracy to cover-up and protect" her abusive police officer husband

..."James Roberts was able to carry on an extensive pattern of violent, threatening and otherwise illegal conduct directed at (Shannon Roberts and her son) as a result of a concerted conspiracy to cover-up and protect Roberts," said the suit filed Nov. 24...

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The Orange County Register
By Annie Burris
December 22, 2009 3:23 PM

HUNTINGTON BEACH – The former wife of a police officer has filed a lawsuit against the Huntington Beach Police Department and police chief, alleging that they tried to cover up abuse by her ex-husband.

The lawsuit by Shannon Roberts also names her former husband, James Roberts III, her husband's supervisor who is also his cousin, and another officer, alleging that they knew of abuse by Roberts, which included rape, destruction of furniture and a family picture, and assault in front of the couple's son.

"(James) Roberts was able to carry on an extensive pattern of violent, threatening and otherwise illegal conduct directed at (Shannon Roberts and her son) as a result of a concerted conspiracy to cover-up and protect Roberts," said the suit filed Nov. 24.

Police Chief Ken Small said the department is doing an internal investigation into Shannon Robert's claims of a cover-up. He declined to comment on specifics about the case.

"People can write whatever they want to write in a lawsuit," he said. "What's important is what's (brought) out in trial. ... I think it is probably true of every lawsuit that what is alleged in the first claim and lawsuit is probably not what happened."

James Roberts is on paid administrative leave and receives a monthly salary of about $7,274.80. He could not be reached for comment.

Roberts, 33, was arrested Sept. 2 and charged with physically abusing Shannon Roberts and his girlfriend. He pleaded not guilty to 17 felony counts of false imprisonment, threats, domestic battery, aggravated assault, dissuading a witness by force or threat, and vandalism. A pretrial hearing for the criminal charges is set for Jan. 11.

John Barnett, Roberts' attorney for the criminal charges, said that the allegations of abuse are "absurd." He said Shannon Roberts contacted her former husband before and after the incidents she alleged seeking his "companionship."

"This is all nonsense," Barnett said. "At no time was there any forceful sexual activity between them. ... There was never any violence directed towards her."

The lawsuit also said Orange County deputy district attorneys discovered irregularities in police conduct and that they told Shannon Roberts that police should have stopped the abuse and were involved in a major cover-up. One prosecutor called the Huntington Beach police "dirty cops," the suit said.

Prosecutors who talked with Shannon Roberts were not immediately available for comment.


James and Shannon Roberts were married in 2003, the suit said. Three years later, Shannon Roberts learned that her husband had been having an affair for a year and a half, according to the suit. James Roberts moved out of their Huntington Beach home in February 2006, the suit said.

The lawsuit claims that the abuse began in June 2007, and a month later Shannon Roberts filed for divorce and went to Arizona with her son to avoid further violence. While she was in Arizona, Roberts got a call from James Roberts in which he said he had destroyed their home in Huntington Beach, the suit states.

Shannon Roberts claims she called the police in Huntington Beach, but they refused to take any action.

When she got back to Huntington Beach, she found that her husband had used a propane tank to destroy furniture and personal belongings, the suit said.

She called the police saying she feared for her and her son's safety but the police "refused to report the incident" and "fraudulently informed" her that because the house was community property, her husband was allowed by law to destroy it, the suit said.

Roberts went to her husband's apartment Sept. 27, 2007, for her son's birthday, the suit said, and according to the suit, Roberts physically attacked her there in front of their son.

On Oct. 31 that year, the lawsuit said, James Roberts found that his wife was text messaging a man and he "became enraged" and broke the cell phone, ripped off her clothes and raped her. Police officers later said that a husband cannot be criminally liable for raping his wife, the suit said.

"Roberts repeatedly said that he owned her and was going to get her pregnant so they could be a family again," the suit said.

A month later, Shannon Roberts called police when James Roberts was abusing her, the lawsuit said. The son was at the home and asked his dad to stop abusing his mother, the suit said. His son also slapped his father in the face during a separate abuse incident asking him to leave them alone, the suit said.


The 911 dispatcher called James Roberts and asked what officers he wanted to respond to the scene "to ensure that no adverse action would be taken against him,'' according to the suit.

Shannon Roberts claims that her husband was enraged that she had called the police, saying he could lose his job, the suit said. He told her that if she sought a restraining order against him, he would "blow her (expletive) brains out,'' the suit said.

When police officers arrived, they gave James Roberts a ride home, drove his truck home for him, and refused to help Shannon Roberts, the suit said.

On May 11, 2008, James Roberts was on police duty in uniform and in a police car, when he came to the home and started arguing with his wife and broke a vase and a family picture, according to the suit. Another officer waited in the police car during the incident, the suit said.

The couple's divorce was finalized Nov. 13, 2008.

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