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3 Stoughton officers had inappropriate relationships with girl who later died by suicide, chief says

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The borough police officer said Friday that three Stoughton police officers, who have since resigned from their roles in the department, entered into inappropriate relationships with a teenage girl who died by suicide years later.

Stoughton Police Chief Donna McNamara on Friday announced the “extremely disturbing” results of an 18-month internal investigation that condemned “serious misconduct” of former officers Matthew Farwell and his twin brother William Farwell and Robert Devine.

McNamara said all of the officers established relationships and took advantage of Sandra Birchmore, a 13-year-old who was registered with the Stoughton Police Explorers program in 2010.

Birchmore, 23, was found dead in her Canton apartment on February 4, 2021, and was misled, abused and tampered by officers, according to McNamara.

“Miss. Birchmore was a frail person who had one constant in her life since childhood in an unshakable esteem for police officers… people who swore and had duties to protect and serve.” McNamara said. “Admiration for her led to her forming relationships with men who were willing to take advantage of her.”

Until her death, Birchmore was talking about her relationship with Matthew Farwell. The day after Birchmore’s death, McNamara ordered Vice President Brian Holmes to head an investigation to determine whether any misconduct had been committed by members of her administration.

“The subsequent investigations into her life and death revealed a very disturbing pattern of behavior towards her,” McNamara said.

According to McNamara, the Farwell brothers, as well as Devine, violated many management policies, including dishonesty, lack of interest and devotion to duty.

Robert Devine (left), William Farwell (right) - Stoughton Police Department

Robert Devine (left), William Farwell (right) – Stoughton Police Department

Robert Devine (left), William Farwell (right) – Stoughton Police Department

McNamara said evidence revealed during the investigation showed that Matthew Farwell, then 27, met Birchmore while she was on the Explorers program and began a relationship with her that included a large number of digital messages and candid exchanges over several years. .

William Farwell is also accused of exchanging explicit messages and pictures with Birchmore while on duty, as well as having a number of inappropriate physical encounters with her.

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McNamara said William Farwell has also attempted to introduce Birchmore to other men on multiple occasions, including former Vice President Devin who was demoted to a patrol officer for abuse of power, and “an individual who is a police officer in another jurisdiction.”

Devine also worked as a detail officer for an after-school program years ago, and had inappropriate contact with another student, according to McNamara. He then began supervising the Explorers Program, which taught aspects of policing to young participants.

McNamara said the Farwell brothers were young participants in the program under Devine before becoming coaches years later, putting them on a course to meet Birchmore.

Investigators eventually determined that Matthew Farwell ended his relationship with Birchmore on February 1, 2021, after a “hateful argument”. She was found dead days later.

“The three men, brothers Farrow and Devine, have violated their oath of office and should not have the privilege of serving any community as a police officer,” McNamara said. “Through a sustained and deliberate mixture of lies, deceit and treachery, they violated the policies of the Stoughton Police Department.”

Brothers Farwell and Devine have since resigned and the results of the investigation have been shared with another town that employs the fourth individual implicated in misconduct with Birchmore.

McNamara added that she plans to ask the state’s new Peace Personnel Standards and Training Commission to withdraw the certificates of brothers Farwell and Devine. She also indicated that she was “sad” and “angry” about what happened.

The results were reported to the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office and the Explorers Program was disbanded.

This is an evolving story. Check back for updates as more information is available.

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