Embattled Police Chief Says Charge of Spousal Rape was Concocted by Ex-Wife in Custody Battle

Eureka, CA–Background: There’s a lot at stake in divorce proceedings, and false spousal rape accusations can be as effective as false domestic violence or child sexual abuse charges in stripping fathers of custody of their children. In 2006, California state Senator Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles) sponsored SB 1402, which eliminates the distinction between spousal rape and other rapes, thus allowing for spousal rape prosecutions six years later, even if there was no mention or independent evidence of the crime in previous years. Under SB 1402, when aggravated spousal rape is alleged, there would be no statute of limitations.

I criticized the bill in my co-authored column Kuehl’s Spousal Rape Bill Will Harm Innocent Men (Sacramento News & Review, 6/15/06). The bill passed with ease.

To be fair, while it can be a nightmare for a man falsely accused of spousal rape to clear himself, it is also difficult for a woman who really was raped by her husband to prove it.

Recently a Northern California police chief was arrested on suspicion of spousal rape. I have no idea whether the charge is true or not, but I was a little skeptical of the allegations when they first came out, and the article below adds to my skepticism. The police chief claims that it is his ex-wife, with whom he is in conflict in a custody case, who made the allegation that his current wife was raped while intoxicated or drugged.

A related video can be seen here. We’ll see what happens.

Thanks to Richard, a reader, for the article.

Gallegos sticks to his guns regarding investigation into Blue Lake police chief
Eureka Times-Standard

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, which is expected today, to any charges if they are filed.

“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.

Gundersen’s current wife is a sergeant at the Blue Lake Police Department and is currently on leave.

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