Tuesday, October 16, 2001
Supervisors to Consider Settlement of Child Molestation Claim Against Sheriff’s Deputy
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
The Board of Supervisors today is set to consider a $450,000 payment to settle a claim brought by a 12-year-old Lancaster girl and her mother for the sexual molestation of the girl by a Sheriff’s deputy.
The settlement stems from claims by the girl, now 14, that Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff Douglas Mills repeatedly fondled and kissed her during several visits to her home while he was on duty during the summer of 1999.
Mills, an eight-year department veteran assigned to the Lancaster station, first met the Lancaster family on June 28 when he responded to a domestic disturbance near their home and asked the girl, her mother, Karol Shihrer, and another girl to help him identify the couple involved.
County reports don’t indicate why Mills called on the Shihrers to assist him.
Mills later took the two girls and other neighborhood children for a ride in his patrol car.
During the ride, the girl who brought the claim said Mills handcuffed at least some of the children and “patted down” the arms, legs and waists of the handcuffed girls.
Two nights later, after helping the girl’s father with his satellite dish, Mills received a radio call around midnight and asked the girl’s father if she could go with him.
During that ride, the girl said Mills held her hand, “rubbed her thigh all the way up to her panty line,” and kissed her on the cheek, near her mouth, county lawyers said.
During another ride in Mills’ patrol car, the girl said Mills put a tube connected to the car’s air conditioner down her shirt and asked her if it “cooled” her off, county lawyers wrote.
On a later date the girl said she came alongside the driver’s window of Mill’s patrol car and he rubbed her stomach, under her shirt, up to her bra, and kissed her on her cheek.
Karol Shihrer said she witnessed that event and immediately reported it to the Sheriff’s Department.
The following day the girl’s mother wore a wire and confronted the deputy, who claimed that he was simply tickling the girl and described himself as an affectionate person.
Following a five-month investigation by the Sheriff’s Department’s Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Mills pled no contest to felony annoying or molesting a child last year and was sentenced to five years probation. Mills resigned from the department.
In exchange for the plea, two other charges, committing a lewd act with a child under 14 and making a terrorist threat against a former girlfriend, were dismissed.
The girlfriend, an 18-year-old woman Mills was having an affair with, charged that in Oct. 1998 Mills, in a fit of jealousy, pulled out a gun, pointed it at her and said, “[D]o you know what would happen if I ever caught you with another man?”
Mills, then 31 and married with one child, met the woman, Lora Davidson, in August 1998 while responding to a radio call at her friend’s house.
Davidson claimed she and Mills engaged in a nearly four-month-long sexual relationship during which she said Mills told her that he had a problem liking younger girls and was seeing a counselor with his wife for that reason.
Mills’ felony child molestation conviction requires him to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. If he successfully completes his probation a judge can reduce the charge to a misdemeanor.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Norm Shapiro also ordered Mills to get counseling, stay away from the victim, pay $2,000 in fines and keep away from all children unless another adult is present.
Mills could not be reached for comment.
In a Sept. 10 letter to the County Claims Board, Deputy County Counsel Jennifer Lehman estimated that proceeding with litigation would cost the county $1.25 million.
The letter also said that Mills “used his authority to get [the girl] to ride in the patrol car, resulting in the acts of molestation” and that the county was probably liable since the deputy committed the actions while on duty.
The girl would get $350,000 and her mother $100,000 under the settlement.
Lehman declined to comment on the settlement.
Mills was the third Antelope Valley deputy to be charged with similar activity in 1999.
Steven Brown, a former deputy at the Antelope Valley Station and winner of the department’s highest honor, the Medal of Valor, was sentenced in May to 18 months of prison after pleading guilty to using Internet to lure what he believed to be a 13-year-old girl into a sexual encounter.
When Brown, a 14-year department veteran, showed up at the West Los Angeles mall to meet the girl, she turned out to be an FBI agent who arrested him on the spot.
Last November, Kevin Carney, who used to work in a child abuse detail for the Sheriff’s Department, was found not guilty of four child-sex charges and charges were dropped on 12 others after a jury deadlocked 11-1.
Carney, a 23-year Sheriff’s Department veteran, has retired from his job at the department and resigned from his post on the Palmdale City Council.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company