Council rejects funding to settle KPD suit

Meeting in executive session Thursday night or early Friday morning, members of the Kaua’i County Council apparently rejected a recommended settlement in a bitter dispute that led to a lawsuit involving two former top Kaua’i Police Department officials.

The controversy between former KPD Chief George Freitas and former KPD Lt. Alvin Seto was triggered by Seto’s investigation of another KPD officer on sexual abuse charges.

The action by members of the council at their meeting at the historic County Building leaves him no option but to continue his fight in court, Seto told The Garden Island in a brief interview.

An affirmative decision by council members to fund the out-of-court settlement offer would have ended the lawsuit.

Seto had filed the lawsuit against his former boss, Freitas.

The details of the proposed settlement, apparently developed by attorneys representing both Seto and Freitas, are confidential and were not released.

County leaders named as defendants, are anticipated to continue to spend a lot of taxpayer money to defend themselves in court in this matter.

Council members were not available to comment on their decision.

Seto contended in a law-suit filed in U.S. District Court in Honolulu that Freitas retaliated against him for investigating KPD officer Nelson Gabriel on the sex-abuse charges.

In the lawsuit, Seto, represented by Honolulu attorney Clayton Ikei, claimed Freitas violated his First Amendment right of free speech, and took retaliatory action against him in violation of the state’s Whistleblowers Protection Act.

Freitas, who has been represented by Honolulu attorney John Komeiji, has said the accusations are baseless, and that, while he monitored Seto during the investigation, he never prevented Seto from voicing his opinions, nor did he terminate or demote Seto in rank or pay.

Seto contended he was forced to resign from KPD on May 31, 2002.

As to the criminal charges against Gabriel, Fifth Circuit Court Judge George Masuoka found him not guilty.

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