Stoughton police officers had inappropriate relationships with young woman who committed suicide, officials say

Three former Stoughton Police Department officers and an officer with another department are accused of having inappropriate relationships with a teenager, who, years later, was found dead in her home.Sandra Birchmore, 23, was found dead in her Canton apartment on Feb. 4, 2021. The following day, an internal investigation began into Birchmore’s death and any potential misconduct committed by members of the police department.Stoughton police Chief Donna McNamara said former Stoughton Officer Matthew Farwell, his twin brother Officer William Farwell and Officer Robert Devine demonstrated serious misconduct in their interactions with Birchmore.“Ms. Birchmore was a vulnerable person who had one constant in her life since childhood — her unwavering admiration of police officers, of those serving in the Military, people in uniform, people with oaths and duties to protect and serve. The admiration led her to form relationships with men who were willing to take advantage of her,” McNamara said.According to an internal affairs investigation, Birchmore was 13 years old when she met Officer Matthew Farwell through the department’s Youth Explorer Program. He allegedly began an inappropriate relationship with Birchmore when she was 15, and he was 27. Hundreds of digital messages and explicit exchanges between the pair over the course of several years were discovered during the investigation, McNamara said.”She was failed by, manipulated by, and used by people of authority that she admired and trusted, right up until her final days,” McNamara said.According to the Boston Globe, Birchmore committed suicide while pregnant with whom she said was Matthew Farwell’s child. Days before her death, he visited Birchmore at her home.”According to Farwell, he went to her apartment to call off the relationship and engaged in what Matthew Farwell later called a pretty nasty argument,” McNamara said.William Farwell is also accused of having multiple inappropriate relations with Birchmore, whom he also attempted to introduce to other men, McNamara said. He allegedly exchanged multiple explicit messages and photographs with Birchmore while he was on duty. Divine, a former deputy chief with the police department, and a man who works in another jurisdiction are also accused of having inappropriate relations with the woman.Devine, who was part of an after-school program at Stoughton Middle School, is also accused of having inappropriate contact with a student in the program.McNamara is asking the state’s new Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission to decertify the three officers. The move would make them ineligible for employment at law enforcement agencies in Massachusetts.“We take an oath to protect and serve our community and its people. We are held to a higher standard. These men violated their oaths of office,” McNamara said. Matthew Farwell, William Farwell and Devine have since resigned from the department.McNamara said the results of the investigation were shared with the police chief where the fourth man associated with the investigation is employed.The investigation also uncovered inappropriate communication with Birchmore and a military recruiter. The department is in the process of notifying the appropriate chain of command. The report on the investigation was given to the District Attorney’s office.“After State Police detectives and the medical examiner found no evidence of foul play in the death of Ms. Birchmore, the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office referred information developed in the death investigation to the Stoughton Police department for action … While prosecutors will review any additional information, it should be noted that, in light of Ms. Birchmore’s death at age 23, the investigation to date has not developed a prosecutable statutory rape case against any individual,” Norfolk County spokesman David Traub said in a statement.

Three former Stoughton Police Department officers and an officer with another department are accused of having inappropriate relationships with a teenager, who, years later, was found dead in her home.

Sandra Birchmore, 23, was found dead in her Canton apartment on Feb. 4, 2021. The following day, an internal investigation began into Birchmore’s death and any potential misconduct committed by members of the police department.

Stoughton police Chief Donna McNamara said former Stoughton Officer Matthew Farwell, his twin brother Officer William Farwell and Officer Robert Devine demonstrated serious misconduct in their interactions with Birchmore.

“Ms. Birchmore was a vulnerable person who had one constant in her life since childhood — her unwavering admiration of police officers, of those serving in the Military, people in uniform, people with oaths and duties to protect and serve. The admiration led her to form relationships with men who were willing to take advantage of her,” McNamara said.

According to an internal affairs investigation, Birchmore was 13 years old when she met Officer Matthew Farwell through the department’s Youth Explorer Program. He allegedly began an inappropriate relationship with Birchmore when she was 15, and he was 27.

Hundreds of digital messages and explicit exchanges between the pair over the course of several years were discovered during the investigation, McNamara said.

“She was failed by, manipulated by, and used by people of authority that she admired and trusted, right up until her final days,” McNamara said.

According to the Boston Globe, Birchmore committed suicide while pregnant with whom she said was Matthew Farwell’s child. Days before her death, he visited Birchmore at her home.

“According to Farwell, he went to her apartment to call off the relationship and engaged in what Matthew Farwell later called a pretty nasty argument,” McNamara said.

William Farwell is also accused of having multiple inappropriate relations with Birchmore, whom he also attempted to introduce to other men, McNamara said. He allegedly exchanged multiple explicit messages and photographs with Birchmore while he was on duty.

Divine, a former deputy chief with the police department, and a man who works in another jurisdiction are also accused of having inappropriate relations with the woman.

Devine, who was part of an after-school program at Stoughton Middle School, is also accused of having inappropriate contact with a student in the program.

McNamara is asking the state’s new Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission to decertify the three officers. The move would make them ineligible for employment at law enforcement agencies in Massachusetts.

“We take an oath to protect and serve our community and its people. We are held to a higher standard. These men violated their oaths of office,” McNamara said.

Matthew Farwell, William Farwell and Devine have since resigned from the department.

McNamara said the results of the investigation were shared with the police chief where the fourth man associated with the investigation is employed.

The investigation also uncovered inappropriate communication with Birchmore and a military recruiter. The department is in the process of notifying the appropriate chain of command.

The report on the investigation was given to the District Attorney’s office.

“After State Police detectives and the medical examiner found no evidence of foul play in the death of Ms. Birchmore, the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office referred information developed in the death investigation to the Stoughton Police department for action … While prosecutors will review any additional information, it should be noted that, in light of Ms. Birchmore’s death at age 23, the investigation to date has not developed a prosecutable statutory rape case against any individual,” Norfolk County spokesman David Traub said in a statement.

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