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Pinto v. City of Visalia

43 Cal. Rptr. 3d 613 (2006)

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Pinto v. City of Visalia

California Court of Appeal

43 Cal. Rptr. 3d 613 (2006)

Facts

Bryan Pinto (defendant) was a police officer employed by the City of Visalia Police Department (VPD) (plaintiff). Pinto met Justin Helt, a 20-year-old man, while on duty when Helt called for advice on how to handle harassment from his ex-boyfriend, 16-year-old C.F. Helt declined to make a report or seek a restraining order against C.F. Pinto and Helt subsequently became personal friends and, in the course of that personal relationship, Helt confessed his relationship with C.F. had been sexual. Several weeks later, through an internet chatroom, C.F. contacted Pinto and confessed that he was worried his sexuality would negatively impact his future. Pinto, as a gay man with a successful career, agreed to mentor C.F. in a personal capacity. Several months later, C.F. called Pinto while Pinto was off-duty and told Pinto he had a sexual encounter with Aaron Rodriguez, an adult man. C.F. did not contact Pinto officially and did not ask Pinto to file a police report. C.F. eventually filed a police report with the neighboring Tulare Police Department. For jurisdictional reasons, C.F.’s report was transferred to VPD. Because C.F. mentioned Pinto in his report, Pinto was investigated by VPD internal affairs. Following an administrative hearing, Pinto was terminated for failing to report that C.F., a minor, had engaged in sexual conduct with Helt and Rodriguez, both adult men. Under VPD regulations and California law, police officers are mandated reporters. Pinto appealed to the state trial court, arguing that mandatory reporting rules did not apply to off-duty officers. The trial court agreed, holding that Pinto did not violate his mandatory reporting duties. The trial court remanded the case to the VPD to issue a punishment less than termination. VPD appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gomes, J.)

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