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3 Stoughton officers had inappropriate relationships with girl who later died by suicide, chief says

Three Stoughton police officers who have since resigned from the department have entered into an inappropriate relationship with a teenage girl who died by suicide years later, the city’s top police officer said Friday.

Stoughton Police Chief Donna McNamarra on Friday announced the “deeply disturbing” results of an 18-month investigation into internal affairs and condemned the “serious misconduct” of former officers Matthew Farwell, his twin brothers William Farwell and Robert Devine.

McNamarra said all officers were in a relationship with Sandra Birchmore, a 13-year-old who was enrolled in the Stoughton Police Explorers program in 2010 and exploited them.

Birchmore, 23, was found dead in her Canton apartment on February 4, 2021, and according to McNamarra, she was failed, abused and manipulated by the officers.

“Mrs. Birchmore was a vulnerable person who had one constant in her life since childhood with an unwavering appreciation for police officers… People with oaths and duties to protect and serve.” said McNamarra. “The admiration led her to enter into relationships with men who were willing to take advantage of her.”

Until her death, Birchmore had talked about her relationship with Matthew Farwell. The day after Birchmore’s death, McNamarra ordered deputy chief Brian Holmes to lead an investigation to determine whether there had been any misconduct by members of her department.

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“The subsequent investigation into her life and death revealed a deeply disturbing pattern of behavior towards her,” McNamarra said.

The Farwell brothers, as well as Devine, have violated many department policies, according to McNamarra, including falsehood and lack of consideration and devotion to duty.

Robert Devine (left), William Farwell (right) — Stoughton Police Department

Robert Devine (left), William Farwell (right) — Stoughton Police Department

Evidence uncovered during the investigation showed that Matthew Farwell, who was 27 at the time, met Birchmore while on the explorer program and began a relationship with her that involved a slew of digital messages and explicit exchanges over the course of several years, said McNamarra. .

William Farwell is also accused of exchanging explicit messages and photos with Birchmore while on duty, in addition to having several inappropriate physical encounters with her.

McNamarra said William Farwell also tried several times to introduce Birchmore to other men, including former deputy chief Devine who had been demoted to patrol officer for abuse of power, and a “person who is a police officer in another jurisdiction.”

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Years earlier, Devine also worked as a retail officer on an after-school program and had inappropriate contact with another student, McNamarra said. He then began overseeing the explorer program, which taught aspects of police work to youth participants.

The Farwell brothers were both youths who enrolled in the program under Devine before becoming instructors years later, leading them to take a course to meet Birchmore, McNamarra said. That program has since been disbanded.

Investigators eventually determined that Matthew Farwell ended his relationship with Birchmore on February 1, 2021, after a “dirty, nasty argument”. She was found dead days later.

“All three men, brothers Farwell and Devine, have violated their oath of office and should never have the privilege of serving a community as police officers,” McNamarra said. “Through a persistent and deliberate combination of lies, deceit and betrayal, they have violated the policy of the Stoughton Police Department.”

Brothers Farwell and Devine have since resigned and the findings of the investigation have been shared with another city that employs the fourth person involved in the Birchmore misconduct.

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McNamarra added that she plans to ask the state’s new Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission to decertify the brothers Farwell and Devine. She also noted that she is “heartbroken” and “outraged” by what has happened.

The Norfolk District Attorney’s office was notified of the findings, which were detailed in a 60-page report.

In a statement, the district attorney’s office said: “State police and coroner investigators have found no evidence of malicious intent in Ms Birchmore’s death… The investigation has not developed a criminal rape case against any person to date. “

Findings of Internal Affairs Investigation of Three Former Stoughton Police Department Officers by Fox Boston Staff on Scribd

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