3 Stoughton officers had inappropriate relationship with girl who later died by suicide, chief says – Boston 25 News

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STOUGHTON, Mass. — Three Stoughton police officers who have since resigned from their roles with the department were involved in inappropriate relationships with a teenage girl who died by suicide years later, the city’s top cop said Friday.

Stoughton Police Chief Donna McNamarra on Friday released the “deeply troubling” findings of an 18-month internal affairs investigation and condemned the “serious misconduct” of former officers Matthew Farwell, his twin brother William Farwell and Robert Devine.

McNamarra said all of the officers formed relationships with and took advantage of Sandra Birchmore, a 13-year-old who was enrolled in the Stoughton Police Explorers program in 2010.

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

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

Until her death, Birchmore had spoken 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 any wrongdoing had been committed by members of her department.

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

The Farwell brothers, as well as Devine, violated many department policies, including being untruthful and failing in attention and devotion to duty, according to McNamarra.

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 she was in the explorers’ program and began a relationship with her that included a series of digital messages and explicit exchanges over several years, McNamarra said .

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

McNamarra said William Farwell also tried to introduce Birchmore to other men on several occasions, 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.”

Devine also worked as a retail officer at an after-school program years earlier and had inappropriate contact with another student, according to McNamarra. He then began overseeing the Explorers Program, which taught aspects of policing to young participants.

The Farwell brothers were both young participants in the program under Devine before becoming instructors years later, putting them on a course to meet Birchmore, McNamarra said. That program has since been disbanded.

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

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

The Farwell brothers and Devine have since resigned, and Abington’s police chief confirms that his department is investigating one of its officers involved in the abuse with Birchmore after receiving information from Stoughton.

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

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

In a statement, the DA’s office said, “State police detectives and the medical examiner found no evidence of foul play in Ms. Birchmore’s death…The investigation to date has not developed a prosecutable statutory rape case against any individual.”

All three officers have left the department and the Stoughton chief is going through the process to decertify their police certification. We went to all the officers’ homes and none were willing to comment on the internal affairs report. Boston 25 went to all of the officer’s homes, and none were willing to comment on the internal affairs report.

This is a development story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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