Pete Kerns (left) Roger MagaÃ±a (right)
Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz named department veteran Pete Kerns as Eugene’s police chief.
At a 1:30 pm press conference Ruiz called Kerns “a person of strong integrity.”
But Kerns allegedly failed to act on a complaint that a fellow officer was sexually abusing women in the worst scandal in Eugene police history. Roger MagaÃ±a was sentenced to 94 years in prison in 2004 for using his police power to rape, sexually abuse, assault and/or harass a dozen women over six years as a Eugene police officer. At MagaÃ±aâ€™s criminal trial, one of his victims alleged under oath that she told Kerns and two other EPD officers about the sex abuse, but Kerns and the other officers did nothing.
Asked about the testimony, Kerns stepped away from the microphone and stood behind Ruiz. Ruiz said that they would not answer the question. â€œWeâ€™re trying to move forward.â€
After the press conference, Kerns said, â€œIâ€™m not going to answer the question.â€
The city of Eugene drew harsh criticism for failing to investigate or discipline fellow officers for failing to act to stop MagaÃ±aâ€™s rape crime wave despite years of complaints. The city paid $5 million to settle victimâ€™s lawsuits.
Kerns praised his fellow Eugene police officers as â€œsome of the finest people Iâ€™ve known.â€