Tree in the North, Continued On August 14, 1987 CE the San Francisco home of Lilith and my
Tree in the North, Continued
On August 14, 1987 CE the San Francisco home of Lilith and myself was raided by San Francisco Police officer Glen Pamfiloff on a search warrant obtained as a consequence of the accusations of Army chaplain Lawrence Adams-Thompson that we had kidnapped and sexually abused his stepdaughter as part of the Presidio of San Francisco day-care witch-hunt. The continuing saga of this surprise attack against us has periodically been reported in the Scroll as the “Tree in the North” series.
Also present on the raid was Officer Sandi Gallant of SFPD Intelligence, who we found out had been presenting a defamatory picture of the Temple of Set, ourselves, and our religion generally to the public and to the SFPD itself. Gallant’s propaganda, in addition to encouraging the nationwide anti-Satanism hysteria, had obviously encouraged an attitude towards us within the department such that an officer like Pamfiloff was only waiting for an excuse to raid us, assuming that all sorts of criminal horrors would be uncovered per Gallant’s dire predictions.
After the shock of the Pamfiloff raid, we first tried for several months to correct the problem and the disinformation campaign through the SFPD itself, with not even a response. Therefore, on April 8, 1988 CE I filed formal complaints against Pamfiloff and Gallant with the San Francisco Police Commission, the supervisory agency of the City of San Francisco above the Police Department.
The investigation by the Commission’s Office of Citizen Complaints took approximately 1-1/2 years, because in the process of researching them, the investigating analyst went not only into the specifics of our case, but more generally into the practices of the SFPD concerning its surveillance of and attitude towards “unconventional” religions, its execution of search warrants, and its policies of retention of property seized in those warrants. As the investigators explained to me, a thorough review of these procedures could result in much more careful, fair, and Constitutional practices being followed in the future on a general basis by the SFPD. We were in full agreement with this constructive approach to the situation, so did not press for a quick-answer solution that would merely rule on our specific case.
The Police Commission’s findings were announced to a letter to me on November 22, quoted as follows:
“As a result of our investigation of your allegations that the search warrant for your home was not properly executed; that letters written to SFPD members were not answered, and complaints not forwarded to OCC; that [Pamfiloff] made improper statements regarding your guilt and character; and that a proper investigation has not been conducted, we have preliminarily found that the actions you complained of are improper under the rules and regulations of the SFPD. Accordingly our preliminary disposition of these allegations is ‘Sustained’.
“As a result of our investigation of your allegations that [Gallant] is keeping improper intelligence files on you and your religion; that this same member is accumulating negative information and not trying to present an objective picture in these files; that this same member improperly contacted your employer with confidential information; that this same member has presented a defamatory image of your religion both on and off duty, we have preliminarily found that the actions you complained of are improper under the rules and regulations of the SFPD. Accordingly our preliminary disposition of these allegations is ‘Sustained’.”
Although in my opinion Pamfiloff had been wrong to seek a search warrant of our home based on the obviously-false allegations of the chaplain, the Commission did not sustain this complaint. As explained to me, it is the issuing judge’s responsibility to validate or reject an application for a search warrant, so if the judge approved Pamfiloff’s application, any fault to be found would have to be with the judge, not Pamfiloff. This, I think, is a fair statement.
The next section of the letter dealt with complaints of mine concerning which the Commission was unable to obtain sufficient evidence to come to a conclusion, hence could not sustain. This included Gallant’s refusal to discuss her intelligence file on the Temple of Set with me, hearsay accounts of alleged defamatory remarks Gallant had made to “occult seminars”, and the SFPD’s relations with the media concerning this matter.
Finally the Commission addressed the retention of Temple and our personal property, not covered by the search warrant, by the SFPD:
“As a result of your allegations that retention of your property was improper, and that a proper investigation was not conducted, we have preliminarily found that the current procedure followed by the SFPD is not proper. Accordingly our preliminary disposition is ‘Procedure Failure’.”
This finding is particularly important, because it indicates that there will be a major review of the SFPD’s policies concerning the seizure and holding of property confiscated during executions of search warrants. Until now, if our case is to be considered representative, officers executing warrants could take pretty much whatever they wanted, whether or not it was on the search warrant. [In our case, everything that Pamfiloff took had nothing whatever to do with any crime, but was simply Temple of Set- or family-related.] Also, until now, persons having their property confiscated by the SFPD have had to sue in court to have it returned to them, whether or not they were charged with any crime. This is a procedure obviously beyond the means of many people.
So we are completely satisfied with the findings of the Commission. Not only has it exonerated us from the treatment we endured, but in the process has set in motion reforms that may benefit the people of San Francisco generally, and which in turn will reflect that much better upon the Police Department itself and gain it that much more trust and respect by the public.
The findings by the Commission now go to the Chief of Police, together with a 30-page confidential report and approximately 1,100 pages of supporting documentation. Based upon this data, and his consultation with the Commission’s investigator, the Chief will be able to take disciplinary action concerning Pamfiloff and Gallant as appropriate and address more generally the systems of the SFPD that permitted a situation such as this to arise.
It is noteworthy that, since she was placed under investigation by the Commission, Gallant’s statements concerning Satanism have changed remarkably towards tolerance and respect for its legal standing as a religion. Indeed she has gone so far as to repudiate her earlier statements on the subject.
That this may be only because she was caught is somewhat beside the point. What is really important is not that old wrongs be rehashed, but that corrections be made in the present and in the future. If nothing else, Gallant - as a result of her attempted attack on the Temple of Set - has now acquired the knowledge concerning it which she only pretended to have a few years ago. If her new statements concerning it are sincere, then perhaps she has learned an important lesson and can henceforth be a force for common sense in the law-enforcement field. Thus it may be the best thing for her to be retained as the “religion specialist” of the SFPD instead of being replaced by some new officer whose experience factor is right back where Gallant’s was in 1980.
What about Pamfiloff? This is another “wait and see” situation. While what he did to us was certainly unjustified, the whole area of “child abuse” investigation by police is an extremely difficult one. If the police err on the side of assuming every crank allegation to be valid [as they did in our case], they are vehemently criticized. If just once they fail to respond aggressively enough to an allegation which proves to be accurate, however, and a child is hurt because they didn’t prevent it, they are criticized twice as vehemently. It is probably the most frustrating part of the police department to work in because of this dilemma. It is probably also very rough on the officers involved, because of their regular exposure to seriously-harmed children and their consequent determination to do all they can to prevent and punish such crimes.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank