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Sherwood cop cleared of criminal charges

by: BARBARA SHERMAN - Adam Keesee was the former school resource officer at Sherwood High School.Criminal charges will not be brought against a Sherwood police officer after a months-long investigation into whether he harassed a high school student who had an affair with his wife.

For eight months, Oregon State Police investigators looked into allegations that Officer Adam Keesee retaliated against a Sherwood teen who had a relationship with Denise Keesee when she was a teacher at Sherwood High School. Denise Keesee left her teaching position in 2012 and pleaded guilty on Feb. 10 to two counts of sex abuse in connection with the affair. She is scheduled to be sentenced in April.

In a statement released last week, the Clackamas County district attorney’s office said no charges would be brought against Adam Keesee. Deputy District Attorney Bryan Brock wrote in a two-page memorandum that the investigation found Keesee used his position as a Sherwood police officer to make the student’s life difficult after he found out about the affair, but could not charge him with criminal conduct because of lack of evidence.

The student filed a $5.1 million lawsuit in Washington County Circuit Court against the Keesees and the Sherwood School District on June 20, 2013, claiming he was abused, and that the school district failed to report the incident. The lawsuit also claimed Adam Keesee used his position as a police officer to threaten and intimidate him.

According to the complaint, the boy recounted a traffic stop in which Officer Adam Keesee reportedly pointed a firearm at him.

Keesee was the school resource officer at Sherwood High School during the time his wife worked there. Investigators said his appearance at the school likely prevented students from coming forward about the abuse. He was later reassigned to a patrol officer position after Washington County began investigating allegations against his wife.

Adam Keesee was placed on leave from the department in June 2013 when the lawsuit was filed.

The student’s complaints point to a series of incidents beginning in March 2007 and extending through April of 2009, and Keesee reportedly targeted the boy for retaliation. Brock’s memorandum lists the student’s full name, but The Times does not list the names of children who are the victims of sexual abuse.

The statute of limitations has passed for a number of the incidents, Brock said, but later incidents were admissible.

The student was arrested on Feb. 13, 2009, by another Sherwood officer for possession of marijuana; however the complaint alleged the officer did not want to arrest the student until Keesee directed the officer to do so.

Brock said Adam Keesee was aware of the affair at the time, and he reportedly took a photo of a TV monitor displaying the boy in a holding cell. He then sent that photo to his wife and later shared the photo with other students at Sherwood High School.

“Officer Keesee’s conduct was motivated by personal gain and designed to harm (the student,)” Brock wrote. “There is little doubt in his motivation and his lack of professionalism in this conduct.”

The boy later filed a complaint against Keesee with the Sherwood Police Department. An internal investigation revealed that while no laws were broken, Keesee had violated department policy and the department “expected better of him.”

A counseling session was recommended for Adam Keesee, but the case was not referred to the district attorney’s office for prosecution.

Brock said Keesee could not be charged with misconduct in the case because there was no proof he knowingly broke the rules in the course of his job.

“In this case, Officer Keesee used his personal phone to take a snapshot of a video monitor,” Brock wrote. “This was clearly not part of the investigation, and he was not acting in his official capacity when he took the picture.”

Because the photo was not an “official photograph,” Brock said, it could not count as misconduct.

What can’t be denied, Brock said, was that Keesee used his position of authority for personal gain. He had access to the holding cell area, a place not generally open to the public, Brock said. He also photocopied the holding cell photograph, which he used to harm the student.

Sherwood Police could not find a policy in the department’s code of conduct that prohibits making copies of the photo.

“While his conduct is unprofessional and may fall under some general policy dealing with ethics and professionalism, nothing specifically prohibits this conduct such that one could say Officer Keesee knowingly committed an unauthorized act,” Brock wrote.

‘Bad blood’

That wasn’t the end of the boy’s dealings with Keesee, Brock said. In April 2009, a Sherwood police officer stopped the car the student was driving under suspicion he was driving drunk. Adam Keesee was a backup officer during the stop.

According to Brock, the officer asked Adam Keesee what to do with the student. He told the officer to “burn him.”

The student had no alcohol in his system, but failed a test for marijuana and served 30 days in jail.

Brock wrote that Adam Keesee didn’t appear to do anything wrong in this encounter, but it shows Keesee had multiple run-ins with the boy.

“On the whole, including the incidents that happened outside the statue of limitations, it seems clear that Keesee had significant and frequent contact with (the student),” Brock wrote. “Further, that Keesee’s conduct during some of these contacts were colored by the ‘bad blood’ created by (the student’s) claims that he had sexual contact with Keesee’s wife.”

Sherwood police documented seven incidents in a 16-month span involving the boy that Adam Keesee was either involved in or present during, Brock wrote. Adam Keesee told Sherwood police during the internal investigation that he had little contact with the boy until one incident when he and his wife were walking down a street. The boy drove by, he said, and yelled something to him out the window, though he could not remember what it was.

That claim is disputed by the internal investigation, which found an officer who remembered Adam Keesee talking about the incident. The boy reportedly yelled “(Expletive) her... I did,” as the car drove by. Someone also painted rude comments about Adam Keesee’s wife on a local water tower, and Adam Keesee recalled hearing the student talk about his wife on previous occasions.

Brock wrote that Keesee’s motive was clearly to get back at the student, but misconduct charges could not be brought against him. “Despite all of this information contradicting Keesee’s claims, I do not find that criminal charges are supported by the evidence,” Brock wrote.

In his memo, Brock wrote another Sherwood resident complained about Adam Keesee after he allegedly intimidated him during traffic stops between 2006 and 2007. Brock declined to charge Adam Keesee in that case because the statute of limitations expired.

The Sherwood Police Department last week released a statement saying the agency worked with the Oregon State Police and Clackamas County district attorney’s office “to ensure a fair and transparent investigation was conducted on behalf of the city of Sherwood, the community and the officer involved.”

“After a thorough investigation by the Oregon State Police and a review by the Clackamas County district attorney’s office, Officer Keesee has been cleared of any criminal charges,” according to the statement.

“The city of Sherwood and the Sherwood Police Department take all allegations of misconduct seriously and (are) dedicated to providing professional law enforcement services and preserving the quality of life for its citizens and community. The city of Sherwood and the Sherwood Police Department (are) grateful for the assistance and thorough investigation conducted by the Oregon State Police as well as the methodical review of the case by the Clackamas County district attorney’s office.”

Keesee remains on paid administrative leave as Sherwood conducts an internal investigation, according to Sherwood officials. Police spokesman Ty Hanlon declined to comment on that investigation because of pending litigation.



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