A Bakersfield police officer who trains new officers testified Tuesday that when responding to a rape call, he and another training officer stood back and watched a recruit approach the wrong house and said nothing.
But they didn't do it to ridicule or humiliate trainee Hillary Bjorneboe, said officer Steven Glenn from the witness stand. They were trying to help her learn the importance of knowing where you're going when responding to a call.
Bjorneboe is suing Glenn, her own training officer Travis Brewer, the police department and city of Bakersfield for sexual harassment, wrongful termination, retaliation and other claims. She was fired from the Bakersfield Police Department in 2015, about six months into her training period.
The lawsuit alleges that Glenn and Brewer told her trainees were expected to sleep with their training officer, asked her if she was gay, questioned her dating life and called her a "whore." It further alleges that Brewer ordered her to do things she felt were not right — like omit from a report a finding of marijuana on a suspect during a routine stop.
Glenn and Brewer, who was Bjorneboe's training officer, deny every making inappropriate or sexually tinged comments to Bjorneboe and maintain that she was fired for her own failure to follow department procedures, succeed in training, and for falsifying a report.
The trial started Feb. 3 and is expected to last a month. Bjorneboe testified last week and Brewer was on the stand Monday.
Bjorneboe was trained by officer Brewer but Glenn testified that he and his trainee often joined Brewer and Bjorneboe on calls that could offer good training opportunities.
Bjorneboe's attorney, Greg Patterson, asked Glenn about the incident involving the call to report a rape. Patterson asked Glenn if he turned to Brewer and whispered it was the wrong house as Bjorneboe went to knock on the door. He did, Glenn said, and Brewer acknowledged he knew it was the wrong house.
An elderly woman answered the door and Bjorneboe asked her about her daughter being raped, Patterson said.
"Did you think it was funny watching Hillary embarrass herself?" Patterson asked Glenn.
"No," Glenn said.
"Did it worry you that an elderly woman would be terrified to hear her daughter had been raped?" Patterson asked.
"She corrected at the scene," he said, adding that Bjorneboe then went to the house next door.
When Glenn's own attorney, Arnold J. Anchordoquy, later asked why he didn't correct Bjorneboe, Glenn said: "She was not my trainee."
Bjorneboe was struggling with geographical locations, Glenn then explained.
"The purpose was for the individual to learn to write down where you're going ...," he said.
Glenn also clarified that the call was to report an alleged rape of a 14- or a 15-year-old that had occurred several years earlier, not that day.
Glenn also acknowledged calling Bjorneboe sweetheart when she later became upset after the incident. Bjorneboe had approached him and expressed concern that she was failing her field training program, Glenn said.
"I said, 'Sweetheart, it's OK to have problems, all you have to do is bounce back. Build one good call on another good call and you'll build momentum," Glenn said.
"I was trying to be empathetic with her situation," he said a few moments later when asked if had said that in a condescending manner.
"Did she tell you she was offended that you called her sweetheart?" Anchordoquy asked.
"No," Glenn said.