A Palm Beach Shores police officer has been on paid administrative leave for nearly a year following allegations he sexually harassed a civilian. But officials have no explanation why the investigation has taken so long, even though only four people were interviewed and there's no physical evidence to examine.
Janice Marintetti, who has gone public with her accusations, says she was going through a divorce in January, 2014 when Charles Hoeffer, who she knew for about three years because he regularly patrolled her neighborhood and was familiar with her and her husband, invited her for a cup of coffee with a promise that he had some information she could use against her soon-to-be ex.
According to the internal affairs investigation, Martinetti tells her story like this: After finishing his shift that day, Hoeffer picked her up in his truck and drove towards Lake Worth in search of a coffee shop. Not feeling totally comfortable, Martinetti asked Hoeffer to pull into a gas station for some bottled water -- she says she wanted surveillance cameras to record her in case anything went wrong. Afterward, Hoeffer parked in front of a derelict building and tried to put the moves on her, telling her how attracted he was to her as he grabbed her breasts. She told him to stop and he did, but then asked if they could go into the backseat for some cuddling.
"I've heard what you Palm Beach police are like," she told Hoeffer. "If you think I'm going to be a quick shag in the back of your truck, think again." But she goes to the backseat, where Hoeffer again brags her breasts. Martinetti tells him no, and he responds with "But I'm about to explode in my pants." Disgusted, she demands to be taken home.
Days later, according to Martinetti, Hoeffer barges into her home and again grabs her breasts. She responds by grabbing his testicles and saying, "How do you like it?" He says he likes it very much, actually, and she tells him to immediately leave, which he does.
Nearly two months later, Martinetti decides to make a formal complaint about the incident and PBSO is brought in to ask Martinetti questions on March 8, 2014. The investigation files show that it's not until April 29 that Palm Beach Shores Police Chief interviews Martinetti and Hoeffer is placed on administrative leave pending the investigation. And then it's not until October 2 that an interview with Hoeffer is conducted. But before he gave his statement, Hoeffer, who also serves as a police union representative, was allowed to review the statements of Martinetti and the other officers involved in the investigation.
And then on January 11, 2015, the Palm Beach Shores PD concluded that there was not enough evidence to prove Hoeffer did any wrongdoing.
There is no explanation for the large gaps in time between interviews, or why it took three months to draw a conclusion from a few statements. The investigation documents do not mention any other forms of investigation to give a reason why so much time was used to conduct. New Times reached out to Palm Beach Shores PD but they did not comment. At a town hall meeting, police department officials told community members that they were not legally allowed to talk about the case at this time.
However, according to the investigation file, in March, Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association attorney Gary Lippman forbade Chief Young from interviewing Hoeffer without a police union attorney present. In June, Lippman sent a letter accusing Young of talking to Martinetti about the accusations before the investigation was formally begun, which the attorney claims made Young an "identifiable witness."
Young denied he talked to Martinetti before the investigation and disputed that he was an identifiable witness.
Lippman then accused Young of talking to Hoeffer about the investigation without an attorney present because the subject of "employment options" was brought up while reiterating that the Palm Beach Shores chief was definitely a witness in the case and should reassign the investigation to another police department.
This began a legal letter tussle between Lippman and attorneys representing the town of Palm Beach Shores.
And those letters, from the first week of June, 2014, are the latest documents in the 74-page investigation file until February 12, 2015, when the investigation was officially closed.
Meanwhile, the Palm Beach Post found several other allegations of sexual assault and rape dating back to 1983 when Hoeffer was a member of the Riviera Beach Police Department. And the Palm Beach Shores PD had another instance of Hoeffer sexually harassing co-workers with unwelcome advances and a strange tendency to constantly grab his crotch in front of females.
These reports and allegations spanning 30 years were never mentioned in the 74-page investigation of Martinetti's accusations that took nearly one year to conduct.
As for Hoeffer, he has been on paid administrative leave for nearly a year. According to the notice of this so-called disciplinary action, Hoeffer is not allowed to engage in any police work and only needs to be available by phone for questioning during daytime work hours.