By Anthony Sommer
Chapter 16: A Stampede to the Courthouse- Part III: Alvin Seto versus KPD
Former KPD Lt. Alvin Seto, who had moved on to become a security supervisor at the Navy’s Pacific Missile range, filed his own lawsuit against Freitas and Kauai County one month after Begley’s.
Seto, a 22-year KPD veteran, had quit the force in May, 2002. He filed his lawsuit on May 27, 2003, just under the wire to meet the one-year statute of limitations deadline.
Seto’s attorney was Clayton Ikei, the same lawyer representing Jackie Tokashiki in her lawsuit against Freitas and the county.
And the case was filed in federal court in Honolulu.
As an investigating officer, Seto won many criminal cases in Judge George Masuoka’s court. But when it came to a civil case against Kauai County, Seto was well aware of Masuoka’s track record of favoring the county. So, he went to U.S. District Court.
The basis of the lawsuit was the same accusation Seto made against Freitas two years earlier: That Freitas had “hindered” the prosecution of Nelson Gabriel on 22 charges of sexually molesting his step-daughter.
When he heard about Seto’s lawsuit, Freitas was furious.
“I’m done with saying ‘no comment.’ How many times does he get to make this same complaint and how many times do we have to prove there isn’t any truth to it?” he asked.
What Seto alleged Freitas had done was to prohibit Seto from illegally using a sexual harassment complaint against Nelson that Seto had coerced out of a police dispatcher.
Seto planned to use that information in an attempt to strong-arm Gabriel’s wife into testifying against her husband. Mrs. Gabriel was prepared to tell the court her daughter had a long record of lying when people made her angry, including falsely charging them with sexually abusing her.
Freitas said the county attorney advised him any mention of a pending sexual harassment charge would be a violation of federal law and Seto could not reveal it to Gabriel’s wife.
Seto had tried to convince County Prosecutor Michael Soong to charge Freitas with “hindering prosecution,” but Soong said there was no case and he refused to file charges.
Seto then went to Mayor Maryanne Kusaka and the Kauai Police Commission. After many months of investigation and closed-door meetings, Freitas was absolved of “hindering prosecution” by the Police Commission on the advice of the county attorney.
The police dispatcher already had sued Seto and Kauai County for violating her right to anonymity when she reluctantly filed the sexual harassment charge against Nelson. The county settled that case for $100,000.
Yet here was Seto in federal court with exactly the same allegation no one else would believe.
In November 2005, in another of its illegal closed-door sessions, the Kauai County Council agreed to pay Seto $120,000 to settle the case.
Seto received more than the dispatcher he had wronged.
Kauai County never announced the settlement, even though every expenditure of taxpayer money is supposed to be public record. Once again, a newspaper reporter found out about it—six months after it was done.
No reason was given for paying off Seto. Clearly, no one on the Council wanted to brag about it.