When San Diego County Sheriff’s investigators were looking into former Deputy Timothy Wilson Jr.’s involvement in the sexual battery of a teenage girl last year, they also suspected Wilson might have been involved in similar crimes in Carlsbad a year prior.
This previously unreported detail about the department’s internal investigation is included in records released this week by the Sheriff’s Department.
According to the documents, investigators thought Wilson matched the description of a suspect wanted in two Carlsbad sexual battery incidents that took place in 2017.
Wilson was sentenced last October after pleading guilty to groping a 14-year-old girl who was waiting in line at a Panda Express restaurant in Vista.
The groping incident happened March 21, 2018, when Wilson, who was standing in line behind the teenage victim girl at the restaurant, reached out and touched her inappropriately. Security cameras inside the restaurant recorded the incident.
Wilson then ran to his black sedan and drove off.
The newly-released records were made public after NBC 7 Investigates filed a public record request under a new state law that requires law enforcement to release officer disciplinary records. In them, investigators found similarities between the Panda Express incident and two other sexual batteries in Carlsbad.
On January 21, 2017, Carlsbad Police said a woman was jogging along Pine Avenue when a man, dressed in black, grabbed her inappropriately and ran away. Five days later, in the same location and around the same time in the morning hours, another female jogger reported a similar assault.
In both cases, the suspect drove away in a black sedan.
In his first interview with Sheriff investigators, Wilson was asked about the two other Carlsbad cases. Detectives told him that the suspect in those cases wore similar clothing and drove a car similar to the one Wilson drove in the Panda Express assault. Wilson denied any involvement in those two other cases.
“That’s not me,” Wilson insisted, according to a transcript of his first interview with sheriff’s detectives. “This Panda Express thing, that was me.”
On Wednesday, Jodee Reyes, a spokesperson for the Carlsbad Police Department, told NBC 7 Investigates no suspect was identified in the 2017 sexual battery cases. Reyes said those investigations have since been “suspended pending further evidence or new investigative information.”
Amy Margolies, Wilson's attorney, would not comment on the Carlsbad allegations.
Wilson’s admission of guilt in the Panda Express assault followed eight minutes of denials that he had ever sexually assaulted any of the alleged victims. But Wilson then changed his story and admitted he had groped the teenager at the Panda Express, the records state.
“It was a momentary lapse in judgment,” Wilson said. “It’s me, man.”
“Every time I get off work from this place, it’s a stressful place to work,” he continued. “I was heading home, saw a pretty woman, I went in there. I don't even know why I did that.”
Wilson had worked for the Sheriff’s Department for ten years. At the time of the Panda Express incident, he was assigned to the Vista Detention Facility.
The day after the March 2018 Panda Express assault, NBC 7 interviewed the teenager’s mother about the crime.
According to the newly-released records, investigators believed Wilson saw the NBC 7 report and three days later used his department computer credentials to access the Sheriff’s internal database and view information on the investigation.
Wilson’s log-in history is detailed in the newly-released documents, which reveal that he checked on the case more than 40 times over a span of several months. According to the investigative files, Wilson downloaded surveillance photos and jotted down the 14-year-old victim’s address in his Sheriff Department-issued notebook.
To read those records, click here.
Detectives found that address in the notebook during their initial interview with Wilson, after they searched his locker at work. According to the files, Wilson told investigators that he planned to go to the victim’s house and apologize, but never followed through.
At Wilson’s sentencing, Judge Daniel Goldstein discussed Wilson’s unlawful access of the Sheriff’s Department internal record database.
"It is not okay to access criminal justice data and leak it or use it for somebody else’s purpose," said Judge Goldstein.
Wilson’s unauthorized use of the department’s investigation database, known as the “NetRMS Report Writing Unit,” is the focus of a lawsuit filed against the Sheriff’s Department by the teenage victim’s mother.
Following the sentencing hearing, Jennifer Tanis told NBC 7 she planned to sue San Diego County for negligence because her family feels the county should have done more to protect confidential information about her daughter.
Wilson was sentenced to 365 days in jail and five years of probation. The former deputy is also required to register as a sex offender for life.
The release of officer discipline records under Senate Bill 1421 is being challenged by local labor unions that represent law enforcement officers. Last month, eight police officer unions challenged an aspect of the Senate bill that allows the release of information about disciplinary actions that happened before January 1, 2019.
A judge temporarily halted the release of those records in those cities until a hearing is held and a decision is made. The Sheriff’s Department is not a party to that challenge and has released disciplinary records in accordance with Senate Bill 1421.