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Ukiah Police Chief sued in civil court

December 23, 2021 — Noble Waidelich, Ukiah’s new police chief, is being sued in civil court this month for domestic violence that is alleged to have taken place between 2011 and 2015. 

Madisyn Carley, who is now 20 years old, claims that on numerous occasions, she witnessed Waidelich abusing her mother, Amanda Carley. She is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for wage loss, medical expenses, and loss of earning capacity, in addition to emotional distress.

Noble Waidelich and Amanda Carley were then living together as a couple. Amanda Carley was also a law enforcement officer, in the Mendocino County Probation Department.

Waidelich did not respond to an email request for comment on this story earlier this week. Anyone accused of a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Michelle Roberts is the director of the Fort Bragg office of Project Sanctuary, a non-profit organization that advocates for, counsels, and houses families who are seeking to escape domestic violence. She told kzyx that law enforcement families experience a high rate of abuse.

“Unfortunately, it’s actually quite prevalent, more so than some other professions,” she said. “Both law enforcement and actually military have high rates of domestic violence…there’s varying data, some of it is old, it’s not really really current, but it’s estimated that as many as 40% of law enforcement families have experienced domestic violence.”

Concerns about violence and misogyny are not new to the Ukiah Police Department. Former UPD Detective Isabel Siderakis is suing the city, the department, and former UPD Sergeant Kevin Murray for sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. Siderakis claims Murray assaulted her during an out-of-town training and that superiors were unresponsive to her complaints of harassment and discrimination. 

Murray is no longer on the force, and the District Attorney has charged him with sex crimes against two other women, burglary, and possession of methamphetamine. 

And in April, multiple videos of Ukiah police officers beating a naked, mentally ill man on the street circulated around the internet. The city and the department did not release any information about whether the officers had been disciplined or suspended, but the responding officer’s name continued to appear on police logs. 

Waidelich joined the force in 2005 and was promoted to chief in September of this year, following the departure of former Chief Justin Wyatt.  

Waidelich was investigated twice for domestic violence against Amanda Carley at the time the abuse is alleged to have occurred.

In April of 2015, an investigator with the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report by school officials that Amanda Carley’s 13-year-old daughter had told them she had witnessed her mother’s boyfriend head-butting and pushing her. 

In a 47-page report, investigating officer Andrew Porter wrote that he interviewed Amanda Carley on April 20th. He described her minimizing, evading, changing her story, and denying that she knew the meaning of the term ‘head-butt.’ District Attorney David Eyster told kzyx this morning that on May 4 of 2015, his office returned the investigation to the sheriff’s office for insufficient credible evidence.* 

The daughter does not appear to have been close to her mother’s boyfriend. Porter’s report includes a text exchange between Waidelich and the teenager, where she wrote,  “Do u realize how happy we were before uLu (sic) ruined all of us.”

Roberts, of Project Sanctuary, says children are deeply affected by domestic violence. “It has a profound effect on them,” she said. “It can impair their learning abilities, it will impact their social skills, it creates a lot of depression and anxiety in children that witness this violence. I mean, think about it, children are innocent victims. They have no control, or very little control, over their own lives.” Project Sanctuary does offer services to children experiencing domestic violence.

In his report, Andrew Porter wrote that prior to his investigation, Waidelich had been subject to an internal police department investigation by Bill Cogbill of Santa Rosa. This investigation had been prompted by colleagues reporting that they had witnessed abuse or that Carley had confided in them, but nothing came of it because Carley denied she was being abused. 

Porter wrote that his final interview with Carley was on August third of 2015. Four months after the initial, evasive interview, he wrote that she came back to his office, admitted that she had not been truthful, and sent him pictures of injuries she had sustained going back to 2012. On August 18, he sent it back to the District Attorney’s office, but it was never prosecuted in criminal court.

Roberts says it’s typical for people experiencing domestic violence to deny it. And leaving the dangerous situation is a decision that has its dangers, too. “The best thing you can do is let your friend or colleague know that you care, and that you want to support them,” she said. “I would say one of the best things to do is to listen, to ask them what they want you to do, how you can help them, and let them be the lead in what happens. People often don’t understand that there’s many reasons people stay in abusive relationships, or that it takes them a long time to get out,” she reflected. “Part of it is fear. Victims are at greater risk of serious injury and death after they leave. There’s also just shame and embarrassment. Sometimes there’s custody of children involved. Sometimes there’s economic hardship involved. So it’s complicated.”

If you need help with domestic violence, you can call the Project Sanctuary crisis hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 964-HELP on the coast or 463-HELP for inland Mendocino County.

*The evening version of this story was updated to reflect information provided when DA Eyster returned our call from the previous day.

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