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Documents reveal Groton City police officer was fired after lengthy investigation of sexual misconduct

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Groton — Hector R. LeBeau stood out among the 12 finalists vying for a position with the Groton City Police Department in 2007.

Raised in Meriden, LeBeau lived in Puerto Rico and Miami, but eventually settled back in Connecticut, according to City Council meeting minutes. Of Native American and Puerto Rican descent, he was fluent in English, Spanish and Lakota Sioux. He had coached youth sports.

He worked for a phone company for seven years before applying to become a city patrolman. He said he was willing to relocate to Groton City, which he considered a good place to raise a family.

LeBeau passed an oral interview, background investigation, polygraph exam, physical agility test, and psychological and medical testing. He met the required entry standards established by the Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) Council.

The City Council voted unanimously to hire him when then-police Chief Bruno Giulini presented him for approval.

Eight years later, documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request show, he was terminated by the department for repeatedly engaging in sexual relations with women he met on duty, including a domestic violence victim and women who struggled with psychiatric and substance abuse issues.

The Day has been reviewing police accountability issues throughout the region in the wake of this past summer's local and national protests of police misconduct and the General Assembly's passage of sweeping police reforms during an emergency session this past summer.

Groton City provided internal affairs documents related to LeBeau's Dec. 10, 2015, termination after redacting the names of the women and other identifying information.

LeBeau's termination letter, signed by then-Mayor Marian Galbraith, indicated he was being fired for just cause following a pre-disciplinary conference the previous day with union attorney Barbara Resnick, and Chief Thomas Davoren, who has since retired.

The police administration concluded that Lebeau had violated city policies, rules and regulations, and its Canon of Police Ethics, listing four counts of conduct unbecoming a police officer and three counts of private conduct that fell short of the city's expectations of a police officer.

"After reviewing the case, I can tell you he wouldn't have been hired here now," said Groton City Police Chief Michael Spellman, who has been chief since 2017. "We maintain very high standards here. I'm proud of the quality and diversity of the people who are currently serving this department. We've been able to get people of high quality and diverse backgrounds."

Attorney Elliott Spector, a law enforcement expert who trains and represents police officers, said that in the past police departments did not share internal affairs records with potential new employers, but that for many years police departments have been required to maintain the records, which are subject to disclosure under case law. In the past, it was common for police officers to resign rather than go through the disciplinary process then try to get jobs with other departments.

The Police Officer Standards and Training Council is rewriting the policy on decertification of police officers to comply with the state's new Police Accountability Act. 

The rewritten policy is expected to prevent decertified officers from performing security officer work and to include new language pertaining to officers found to have engaged in discriminatory conduct, falsified reports or racial profiling. LeBeau was not decertified.

Spector is not familiar with LeBeau's case but said sexual misconduct is already included in the decertification policy.

The top two reasons for officer decertification on a so-called "black list" of decertified officers in Connecticut maintained by the Police Officer Standards and Training Council are felony convictions and making a false statement.

'I didn't break any laws'

LeBeau, now 46, still lives in Groton. A father of three daughters, he was divorced by his wife in 2015, the same year his superiors conducted an extensive internal investigation after receiving complaints that he was engaged in sexual relations with women he met while on duty.

Reached by phone this past week, LeBeau said he hadn't done anything wrong, but had been targeted for termination after sharing unflattering information about then Deputy Chief Michael Guillot, who conducted the internal affairs investigation.

"If I did have any relationship with any women, it was all on my time," said LeBeau.

LeBeau appealed his termination and said the city offered to settle the case during arbitration. He said he wouldn't accept anything but being re-hired by the department and walked away after two years.

LeBeau has not been decertified as a police officer or charged with any crimes. He said he received conditional offers of employment from other agencies, but decided he wasn't ready to return to the job.

"Did I put myself in a bad situation? Yeah, I did," he said. "I probably hung out with the wrong people. I didn't break any laws. I was in the wrong crowd."

LeBeau said he met one of the three women involved at one of the casinos. He provided The Day with a letter from the domestic violence victim, who has since moved out of state. The woman recanted her statements against LeBeau, writing that he was a professional officer and a kind person and that she had been coerced into making earlier statements against LeBeau by her abusive ex-husband.

He's working as a per diem security guard at Connecticut College and in a temporary job at the Waterford post office.

The Connecticut College communications office issued a statement after The Day contacted the director of security and dean of students to inquire about LeBeau's employment.

"Hector LeBeau is a part-time campus safety officer at the College who was hired in 2018," said the statement from the College. "His employment, like that of every employee at Connecticut College, occurred after a thorough employee credentialing process, including a criminal background check."

Domestic violence victim

The woman who had been assaulted by her husband said she ran into LeBeau, sitting in his cruiser in a city park, a month after he was called to her home for the assault. She said he showed her pictures from his cruiser's computer of her injured face on the night of the assault. She said LeBeau began texting her and told her if she ever wanted to see him, to just say so, since it was "boring" on the midnight shift. He gave her money and cigarettes, and eventually they had sex.

"I had just been a victim of a beating," she said during an interview with Guillot and then-Lt. Eric Jenkins. "I was told by DCF that my (kids) may be put up for adoption. I felt everything was out of control and I just had to give it to him. ..."

The woman wrote in an August 2016 letter to then-Chief Davoren that her husband had persuaded her to lie about her relationship with LeBeau and accompanied her to an interview with Guillot.

"He threatened me and manipulated me by creating a false narrative for me about what I was going to tell police," she wrote. "In fear of what he was capable of, I complied with him."

She wrote that she had since left the abusive relationship and moved out of state.

An offering of sage

Another female told police that after LeBeau went to her house for a report that she might hurt herself, she sought his advice and friended him on Facebook because she wanted someone to talk to. LeBeau eventually invited her to his apartment, where she said he pressured her for sex. When she refused to have intercourse, he later messaged her to say, "U still owe me."

"I feel betrayed by a police officer who I thought would give me help or feedback, but instead I was hit on and asked for sexual favors," the woman told Guillot during the investigation.

Her husband demanded an apology on her behalf and described LeBeau as "a predatory and socially inept man in a police costume." When the husband was detained for an unrelated reason, LeBeau turned off a camera in the processing room after the man started asking him questions, according to the investigation.

LeBeau told investigators he had met the woman while she walked her dog in Washington Park prior to the medical call and that she had approached him in his cruiser twice to speak with him. He said he gave her a slip of paper with a number she could call if she needed help, and that because she told him she was into "herbal stuff," he offered her sage, which he used for cleansing.

He said she came to his apartment for the sage and followed him to his bedroom when he went to retrieve the herb. He said they spoke for 10 minutes, then he drove the woman home on his motorcycle, and that they were just friends. The woman said LeBeau never spoke to her about sage.

A female arrested in May 2015 for an altercation with a neighbor said loudly, in the lobby of police headquarters, that she knew "Hector," and that he had "informed her about how (expletive) this place was." The neighbor told a sergeant she had seen LeBeau park his patrol car and enter the woman's apartment and knew of their sexual relationship. She said she was concerned that if another incident occurred, police would be inclined to arrest her because of the woman's ongoing relationship with LeBeau.

The neighbor, who said the woman was known to be a "pill popper," had said the woman had told her that LeBeau could get her anything she wanted.

LeBeau said he had met the woman a year earlier at the casino, and they had exchanged texts but stopped because she had a boyfriend. He said he saw her again when he went to her house for a stolen cell phone complaint and they began texting again. He said he didn't know about her possible substance abuse problem.

LeBeau's disciplinary history with the department indicated he was investigated in 2009 and 2011 for beginning, or attempting to begin relationships with females after meeting them while on duty. One case involved texting a 17-year-old the same day he met her and the other involved a female he met during an on-duty call to a residence. In both of those investigations, charges of misconduct on his private time and conduct unbecoming an officer were sustained.

k.florin@theday.com

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