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Berkeley cop fired and arrested amid sexual molestation allegations

by Maggie Crane

KMOV.com

Posted on September 23, 2010 at 10:06 PM

Updated yesterday at 8:56 PM

(KMOV) -- A Berkeley police officer is out of a job and has now been arrested amid allegations that he sexually molested a 15-year-old girl. 

News 4 first told you about the accusations against Dan Peterson Wednesday, but on Thursday he was released from jail until prosecutors review the case.  Peterson's former chief tells News 4's Maggie Crane why he fired him.

Berkeley police say one of their own crossed the line.

"We're held to a higher standard as law enforcement or even public safety," Berkeley Police Chief Col. Frank McCall Jr. says.

Chief McCall fired rookie officer Phillip Daniel Peterson.  A Ferguson mother says Peterson sexually abused her 15-year-old daughter.

"I can't go into specifics, but I will say that there was enough documentation and enough information uncovered that warranted the decision that we made," McCall says.

But what was uncovered internally cannot be used against him criminally. 

The victim's mother claims 27-year-old Peterson sent several inappropriate text messages and emails to her daughter.  She says the two met at Risen Lord Community Church in St. Charles.  While Peterson was involved with the youth group, a pastor there tells News 4 via email that Peterson was never employed by the church. 

The alleged sexual abuse reportedly happened while Peterson was off duty.  Tonight Peterson has been booked for statutory sodomy.

Ferguson police have been handling the criminal investigation for more than a week.  A detective tells News 4 that he'll present his case to the prosecutor for warrants on Friday, but the Berkeley chief says his decision couldn't wait.

"Especially based on the allegations, that's something you don't sit on," McCall says.

We tried to find Peterson at home.

"We're looking for Dan or if anyone would like to comment  on his behalf to get the other side of the story," Reporter Maggie Crane asks the woman who answered the door.

"We don't have any comment, and he's not here," she replied.

We left a card for Peterson and his attorney.

 

*In one photo in this story, Peterson is wearing a Tri-State Search and Rescue shirt.  Peterson was a volunteer member of the organization in 2006 but resigned under his own terms.

Maggie is a reporter at News 4.  To contact her, email mcrane@kmov.com

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