Stoughton Police Chief: Investigation Found Officers Exploited Young Teen
STOUGHTON — Stoughton's police chief said Friday that an internal investigation has uncovered "serious misconduct" by three former officers who had inappropriate relations with a teen who later died.
According to Chief Donna McNamara, one ex-officer, Matthew Farwell, began a relationship with Sandra Birchmore when he was 27 and she was just 15 years old.
Farwell had met Birchmore as her instructor in the police department's youth explorer program in 2010, when she was 13.
The investigation found that over the next several years, two other Stoughton police officers — including Matthew's twin brother, William Farwell, and Robert Divine — also engaged in inappropriate communications with Birchmore.
Birchmore was found dead in her Canton apartment in February 2021, a few days after Matthew Farwell ended the relationship.
The Boston Globe reports that she was pregnant at the time and died by suicide.
McNamara revealed the results of the internal investigation at a press conference Friday morning, stating that as a public servant, she is "heartbroken" and "incensed" by what took place.
The chief said a fourth officer, whom she did not identify, is still working as an officer in another community.
She added that the police chief of the department in question has been notified of the officer's involvement.
A fifth man, who works as a military recruiter, was also identified in the investigation and the "appropriate chain of command" has been notified, according to the chief.
McNamara said Stoughton police are recommending that the state permanently revoke the men's police certification, to ensure that "they never serve as police officers anywhere."
All three men have since resigned from the Stoughton police department, and McNamara said the investigation's findings have been referred to county prosecutors for potential criminal charges.
"We take an oath to protect and serve our community and its people," the chief stated.
"I stand before you today as a civil servant who is heartbroken and incensed by what has transpired, and who pledges that this chapter in the Stoughton police department and the town of Stoughton is over."
"A person who wears a badge in this community will work to earn back the trust of our citizens," she added.