Courts

Former cop gets jail time in sexting case

Photo by CBS

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A former Sacramento police officer who resigned as the department investigated him for sexting an underage girl pled no contest to criminal charges earlier this month.

Daniel Joseph Donahue pled no contest last month to two felony counts; sending harmful matter with the intent to seduce a minor and contacting a minor to commit a felony. He also pled no contest to a misdemeanor charge, molesting a child under the age of 18.

Donahue was sentenced to two years of probation, with 90 days to be served in custody and 120 days in a Sheriff’s Work Project. He’s been ordered to surrender at the county jail on October 7th by 6:00 PM. He will also be ordered to register as a sex offender.

Donahue was arrested last March after a woman called police in Sacramento, claiming an officer had been inappropriately texting her 15-year-old niece on Snapchat, asking to be in a relationship with her and offering to fly out to see her.

“You are so sexy. You are so sexy,” one chat from Donahue, reviewed by The Update, reads. “You’re so hot.”

Detectives later searched Donahue’s home, workspace, and personal vehicle, discovering that he sent images of his nude, erect penis to the teenager while on duty at work. It was revealed in court that the girl wasn’t the only minor Donahue communicated with, but detectives weren’t able to contact and positively ID the others.

“He was communicating with numerous minors all over the country and internationally,” Deputy District Attorney Danny Jensen said.

The City of Sacramento, under a recent law that makes some records on police misconduct available for public inspection, has begun to release documents on the internal investigation into Donahue following prodding by The Update.

In a hearing on the 7th, the 15-year-old girl’s aunt gave a victim impact statement to the court, saying her niece had “completely shut down” in counseling sessions after Donahue used his authority to manipulate her. She said her niece has become distrustful of law enforcement and adults in general.

“It really disgusts me that the factors of her age were known, and that this person had a significant amount of authority over the community that he works with, and that was also pushed onto my niece,” Kathy Benjamin said. “Lots of things have happened since then, a lot with the trust. I think that’s the main thing I want to address here, is the trust she doesn’t have any longer with law enforcement, even more so with adults.”

After Benjamin, Donahue’s half-sister addressed the court to work out his living conditions. He will be living with her and her underage children in Vacaville, and the judge asked if she consented to Donahue living there.

“I have no problem with that,” she said. “I trust my brother completely around my children.”

Ethan Biando
Ethan Biando is a freelance journalist from Sacramento. His writing focuses on crime, courts, and policing. Find him on Twitter @ethanb822

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