A federal lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Eureka accuses former Ukiah Police Chief Noble Waidelich of sexually assaulting a Mendocino County woman in her home last summer.
The woman is identified only as “Jane Doe” in the lawsuit, which was lodged by a Los Angeles law firm. The alleged victim is widely known, however, in Mendocino County law enforcement circles as a supporter of police and military, and is a friend of many high-ranking local officers.
The Waidelich case surfaced when Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall was notified of the alleged assault at the woman’s Ukiah home on June 13. Kendall immediately referred the allegations to Sonoma County authorities for an outside investigation.
City officials fired Waidelich three days later but the reasons why, and the results of the Sonoma investigation have been kept under wraps by local authorities. The specific allegation of sexual assault did not publicly surface until November, and only then after a review by the state Attorney General’s Office. The AG publicly identified the alleged sexual assault accusation and referred the case back to Mendocino County for possible prosecution.
The Sonoma investigation conclusions were turned over to District Attorney David Eyster in September, but for months he has refused to comment publicly on any aspect of the Waidelich case.
Eyster’s office again failed Thursday to respond to written questions about the federal lawsuit.
The Los Angeles law firm declined Thursday to elaborate on the contents of the lawsuit it filed on behalf of the Ukiah woman.
“We are letting the complaint speak for itself,” said Eric Rose, who represents the firm of Johnston & Hutchinson.
The lawsuit focuses on the actions of Waidelich, a local cop who rose through the ranks beginning in 2005 to become police chief only to be fired less than a year after his appointment. The suit alleges Waidelich, was “on duty, in uniform, and wearing a badge and carrying a firearm” when he showed up at the woman’s home and demanded sex.
Waidelich’s conduct toward the woman is described in the lawsuit as “cruel, unusual, malicious, sadistic, offensive to human dignity, sexually abusive, sexually harassing, and for his own gratification.”
The lawsuit seeks unspecified general damages, medical and related expenses, punitive damages, and attorney fees.
Apparently, an earlier claim for damages filed by the alleged victim against the city and its police department was routinely rejected by the city on Dec. 29, 2022. The federal lawsuit subsequently was filed on Feb. 28, according to documents.
The alleged victim contends she is undergoing counseling because of the “great mental and physical pain” suffered during her encounter with Waidelich, and the “grief, shock, humiliation, self-degradation, shame, disgust, isolation, and apprehension” that followed.
The allegations that led to Waidelich’s downfall are among a string of local police misconduct cases whose details authorities have largely kept under wraps. In 2017, Waidelich was accused of domestic violence by a former county probation officer, who later sued him for emotional and financial abuse. Amanda Carley recently settled the civil case that directly involved Eyster, whom she called the ‘architect’ of a plan to eventually force her from her job and protect Waidelich from criminal prosecution.
DA Eyster has repeatedly refused to talk about specifics of either Waidelich case, as he has other sex-related cases involving a former Willits police lieutenant and a disgraced Ukiah police sergeant. Eyster’s office last summer as the Waidelich case was unfolding dropped three felony sex charges against former Sgt. Kevin Murray in a plea bargain that critics called a ‘sweetheart deal.’
Since then, there have been revelations of alleged sexual misconduct involving the Willits officer.
Sexually related police misconduct cases in California and across the nation rank second only to the use of excessive force by errant law enforcement officers, according to statistics.