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Saturday, May 10, 2014 – 10:00 a.m.

The growing allegations of deputy-on-inmate assaults, within the San Bernardino County Jail System, has taken on a life of its own.

The situation sounds as if it’s going to be a long ugly path for many involved. Not to mention costly for the San Bernardino County general fund.

It’s getting extremely hard for the Sheriff’s Department to keep the developing story straight. This weeks spin doesn’t appear to reconcile any longer.

Public information officers for Sheriff-Coroner John McMahon, and even the Sheriff himself, have complicated the situation even further.

One local newspaper, the Victorville Daily Press, isn’t drinking the Kool Aid any longer. The others, The Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and The Press-Enterprise, have pretty much entered a bunker mentality, being that McMahon is their supported candidate.

However, Los Angeles-based media outlets have picked-up the story. Thursday nights KNBC-TV news broadcast was ugly. They clearly have no horse in the game.

Here’s a recap of what’s been said, since the story of the FBI investigation broke:

Sheriff’s Department Spin

  • It’s a joint investigation.
  • It’s an isolated incident.
  • The department is conducting its own administrative investigation.
  • We’re getting to the bottom of it.
  • This won’t be tolerated.
  • We know of no incidents to have occurred at any other facility.

FBI Position:

  • It’s our separate investigation.
  • The Sheriff’s department is cooperating.
  • Our findings will be turned over to the U.S. Attorney.
  • We have no further comment.

This weeks Sheriff’s Department Spin:

  • Neither investigation (FBI or Sheriff) has discovered any sexual assault-related incidents, related to inmates being sodomized.
  • The events are isolated to one unit at the West Valley Detention Center.

A couple questions here:

  • Why is the Sheriff’s Department even commenting on the investigation at all?
  • Why is the Sheriff’s Department conducting an administrative investigation during an inprogress FBI investigaton?
  • Why is the Sheriff’s Department speaking as to what the FBI investigation has or hasn’t uncovered? How would they know?
  • Can the FBI be happy with all the Sheriff’s blabbing to the media, on a near daily basis?

But now there’s a new twist. This blog first reported information that inmates were being gased in their cells at the Adelanto Detention Center. Something the Sheriff’s Department has repeatedly denied.

Now comes Plaintiff Attorney Sharon Brunner, whose comments, published in the Daily Press on Friday, has really, really, complicated life for the Sheriff’s Department this week.

According to Brunner, there is some leads indicating the conduct may be more widespread than previously thought, and may involve the High Desert jail facilities.

“We do have some leads that it might be happening in Adelanto.” said Brunner.

The department had better pray that Brunner is flat out wrong. But right now, the money is on Brunner.

It’s obvious the department-generated spin is for McMahon’s political well-being, and nothing more. After all it was never intended that the investigation become public until after the June 3 election.

But it did!

McMahon appears to be digging a deep hole for himself. It’ll be interesting to see if he can climb out, and survive politically, in the aftermath.

If the problems really are systemic, McMahon’s goose is cooked. The tell a lie now, and say it was mistake later, won’t work on this.

Election win, or not.