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State clears Radder, Schenck of charges

Sunnyside Police Chief Ed Radder and Deputy Chief Phil Schenck were both cleared of wrongdoing on Tuesday by the Washington State Attorney General's office.

Former Sunnyside Police Sergeant Jose Trevino alleged last November that Radder unlawfully issued a handgun to an illegal alien in 2005 and that Schenck had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a high school girl in 1999.

The claims were eventually forwarded on to the State Patrol, which presented its research to the Attorney General.

In a decision letter dated Tuesday, the attorney general's chief criminal prosecutor, Lana Weinmann, stated, "There is no evidence indicating a criminal violation was committed" in either of the allegations.

Weinmann did find that Radder issued a firearm to a prospective police reserve, Taunya Harris, before all background checks were completed. It was later found that Harris is a Canadian citizen, not a U.S. citizen, and had not obtained a resident alien firearms license.

The gun was later returned to the department, Weinmann found, but the incident was not a violation of law as Harris "was not ineligible to possess a firearm".

Harris, who in February told the Daily Sun News that she was not issued a handgun, said at that time she is no longer in the reserve program.

City Manager Robert Stockwell stated, "Chief Radder's actions in providing the firearm to the reserve officer candidate was not improper and furthered the process of developing qualified candidates to fill these positions in the Police Department."

Stockwell said Radder's actions were "at worst a minor oversight and does not reflect negatively on the conduct or performance of Chief Radder and he has my full support."

Of the sexual misconduct allegation against Schenck, Weinmann said the alleged victim, who was 18 years old at the time, "denied any sexual contact with police department personnel at that time".

In addition to the investigation by the Washington State Patrol, Stockwell examined the alleged actions of both officers in light of all city policies and regulations.

Both investigations found that neither officer violated city ordinances, policies, regulations or state statutes.

When reached for comment, Schenck said he and Radder are not able to comment on the attorney general's findings because there is still the threat of a wrongful discharge lawsuit by Trevino related to his resignation in October 2005.

Trevino said he stands by his allegations against Radder and Schenck, claiming the city witheld information that hampered the State Patrol's investigation.

"I want to thank the State Patrol for taking their time in doing the investigation. They did a good job," Trevino said. "But there were some witnesses not interviewed and some facts that didn't come out."

He also pointed to the fact that Harris was issued a gun, though she denied receiving one. "Obviously there's something to hide there," he alleged.

Trevino said he is contacting federal agencies to check into the allegations. "I'm meeting with an investigator and he'll be looking into it," Trevino said. Trevino declined to identify which federal authorities he's contacted, only noting that it's an "agency under the Department of Justice."

Trevino also indicated that he will follow through with the lawsuit against the city of Sunnyside.

Stockwell noted, though, that the attorney general's response is "definitely a relief". He added, "While I was confident from the beginning there were no violations, until we had an outside party look at it there was just kind of a negative shadow."

Stockwell also said the allegations were hard on the officers involved. "They would have been very serious charges had they been true."

But with the State finding no wrongdoing by either Radder or Schenck, Stockwell expressed hope that the focus on the police department can move forward in a more positive light.

"Hopefully what we can do is talk about the fact we have two pretty good people working for us."

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