Santa Clara police sgt. sentenced for indecent exposure
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (BCN) - A Santa Clara police sergeant was sentenced after being charged with indecent exposure last year at a San Jose store.
Sgt. Thomas Leipelt was sentenced to 45 days in jail.
Leipelt was visiting a woman he was dating on May 15 at Annieglass at Santana Row shopping center, where he allegedly exposed himself to a woman, the store manager, in a back room.
He was charged in July for misdemeanor indecent exposure, according to Walsh.
Santa Clara police had placed Leipelt on paid administrative leave since May when they were notified of the incident, which occurred while he was off-duty.
The defendant was married with children and had an affair with a woman who was a sales associate at the store, defense attorney Cameron Bowman said in his opening statement.
Leipelt couldn't have taken off all his clothes because he was in a tactical uniform from a training session earlier in the day, Bowman said.
The associate, who took the witness stand, said she had only worked at the store for about a month before the incident and was surprised when Leipelt showed up.
The associate described her relationship with Leipelt as a fling and said she is no longer seeing him, but they remain friends.
The manager also took the witness stand and under questioning by Walsh said she met Leipelt for the first time on the evening of May 15, but knew of him through conversations with her co-worker.
The manager said she and the associate were the only people working at the store that day and stayed at the payment counter while her co-worker took a 30-minute break in the back room with Leipelt.
The manager recalled telling them that she would go to the back room if she heard any glass break.
The manager suspected the pair would kiss, which she was OK with, but had no idea if they were having sex.
About 10 minutes later, a married couple then entered the store said they were looking for the associate, who was their friend, according to the manager.
The manager said she knocked on the back room door, opened it and poked her head inside to tell the associate she had visitors, but at the time didn't have a clear view of Leipelt.
The co-worker appeared flustered and was adjusting her clothes, then walked out of the room one to two minutes later, according to manager.
The manager said she stepped out to the payment counter then returned to the back door to pick up a document from the printer without knocking on the door.
In the back room, the manager said she saw Leipelt nude on a swivel office desk chair and masturbating in front of her.
Leipelt didn't flinch or attempt to cover himself and told her to "come here," but the manager quickly said no, turned around and went back to the payment counter.
The manager remembered she was confused, surprised and shocked by what she had seen.
The manager said she told the associate Leipelt was masturbating as soon as the friends left.
The associate retreated to the back room and came out with Leipelt about five minutes later to apologize, according to the manager.
The manager said she immediately left for home once her shift ended, which was within the hour the incident happened.
Later in the evening, the manager said she responded to text messages from the associate, who said she was sorry for Leipelt's actions in the back room.
The manager said she avoided the associate while they worked together the following day.
On May 17, the manager said she sent an email to her close confidants for advice on the incident with Leipelt at the store and notified the store owner, who fired the associate the next day.
The manager said she then reported the incident to Santa Clara police days later and was subsequently interviewed by San Jose police.
The manager decided to inform law enforcement because she felt violated, sensed it wasn't Leipelt's first time exposing himself and didn't believe Leipelt was fulfilling his obligation as an officer to protect and serve.