New probe of Spokane officer who housed sex offender


The Associated Press

SPOKANE, Wash.- A veteran police officer who let a registered sex offender live in his basement is under investigation amid reports that he stored firearms for the offender.

Officer David Freitag was placed on paid leave last week after Thomas A. Herman, 65, was arrested in federal child pornography investigation. Freitag has since been under investigation by the FBI for his relationship with Herman and by Child Protective Services because he and his wife have a 7-year-old daughter and two teenage boys.

On Wednesday, Deputy Chief Allan Odenthal said "elements of the investigative division" in the city police force were investigating to determine whether Freitag, a 15-year veteran who was assigned to the patrol division, had committed unspecified violations of state law.

Herman, who recently worked at a laundry, was convicted of photographing, raping and sodomizing girls in Spokane. He returned after serving prison time for convictions in 1986 for five counts of sexual exploitation of a child, two of statutory rape and one of indecent liberties.

On July 25 Herman was one of 22 people who were arrested and accused of posting encrypted child pornography images on a Web site operated by the North American Man/Girl Love Association, which was shut down as part of an investigation that included searches at 35 locations in 20 states.

FBI agents said the probe involved an international network of "online predators" who traded thousands of pictures of children being raped.

Herman waived his right to a bail hearing in a brief court appearance Wednesday.

Odenthal said police were told Wednesday "by the FBI that we were free to pursue questions that we have concerning Officer Freitag."

He wouldn't elaborate, but The Spokesman-Review quoted unnamed sources close to the case as saying agents seized eight to 10 handguns, rifles and a shotgun that Freitag was keeping for Herman. Felons are barred by federal law from possessing weapons or ammunition, and concealing a felony could be a state crime.

"That's part of the FBI investigation, and I'm not free to comment on that," Odenthal said.

Detectives "have been tasked with pursuing questions the department has" about Freitag and his relationship with Herman, the deputy chief added. "I would not characterize it as an internal affairs investigation."

Freitag's lawyer, Carl J. Oreskovich, said the officer was cooperating fully.

"It is my understanding that he is not the target of any investigation," Oreskovich said. "I anticipate that when the city completes its investigation that it will conclude that Mr. Freitag has done nothing wrong and only was a caring neighbor."

Associated Press
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