Charges: Lynden police officer used work cell, computer to communicate with girl

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDApril 30, 2014 

LYNDEN - After a Lynden police officer sent and received 155 text messages on his work cellphone during a single shift in early April, the department began an investigation that would lead to the officer's resignation and arrest on suspicion of possession of child pornography Friday, April 25.

Donald Glunt, 57, is facing charges of possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, after the investigation turned up nude photos of a 16-year-old girl from Texas on Glunt's work cellphone. Glunt resigned April 21, after working as an officer with the department for 34 years.

According to probable cause documents filed in Whatcom County Superior Court on Tuesday, April 29:

In April, police department administration had become concerned about Glunt's excessive texting during work hours, and he met with a sergeant April 19 about issues with his report writing and excessive use of his city-issued phone. The sergeant had reviewed Glunt's cellphone records and noticed two out-of-state numbers that Glunt had been communicating with the most. Glunt told the sergeant that one of those numbers belonged to a female in Texas, and he described the texting as "a lapse in judgment."

The sergeant took Glunt's city cellphone and gave him one that didn't have texting ability. Glunt said he wanted to delete something from the phone, and the sergeant refused him.

After finding the nude photos while reviewing Glunt's phone, the sergeant contacted law enforcement in Texas and found out that the girl Glunt had been texting had just turned 16. The girl said she had been communicating with "Don from Washington state," and said that she recently got a text from him saying that he was in trouble, that she was to say she was 19 if asked and that she shouldn't answer the phone.

The girl said she told Glunt that she was 17. She let police download data from her cellphone.

On April 24, the Lynden Police Department contacted Washington State Patrol for help with the investigation. On April 25, State Patrol detectives interviewed Glunt at the Lynden Police Department. During that interview, he said that he thought he was talking to a 19-year-old, and he said he communicated with her through text messages and an online role-playing site.

He said he saw the nude photos she sent him, and his description matched the girl's description of the photos and matched what the sergeant saw when he looked at Glunt's phone.

Glunt told detectives he had several thousand images of sexually exploited children on his laptop that he had saved for a presentation to combat sexual exploitation of children, according to court documents. Glunt said he never used the photos - which weren't nude but featured children being exploited - in a presentation, but said a co-presenter had used some of the images.

In recent years - and as recently as February - Glunt led classes on behalf of Not For Sale and Hope4Justice, groups that warn the public about the dangers of sex predators and human trafficking.

Glunt said he deleted some photos from his laptop after the city phone was taken from him. He said he used his personal laptop to view pornography and look at child modeling sites, and said that he had communicated with the Texas girl on his personal laptop, his work laptop, his work desktop and his personal and work cellphones, according to court documents. State Patrol collected and got search warrants for seven electronic devices.

Glunt's arraignment is scheduled for Friday morning.

READ THE REPORT

Click here to read a copy (PDF) of the affidavit of probable cause against Donald Glunt (contains information that may upset some readers).

Reach Zoe Fraley at 360-756-2803 or zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com.

Bellingham Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service