A fired Maricopa County sheriff’s deputy accused of fondling two teenage girls will be sentenced Wednesday on a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.
John F. Springfield, 38, was fired April 9 and will have to relinquish his certification as a police officer as part of the plea deal that was signed May 25.
The deal stems from accusations that Springfield fondled a handcuffed, 16-year-old girl on July 29, 2004, at Canyon Lake, where he patrolled.
Springfield also pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in Pinal County Superior Court July 2 in connection with a case in which he’s accused of fondling a 14-year-old girl during a search for drugs in December 2004. He will be sentenced there Sept. 10.
Springfield’s attorney declined to comment until after his sentencing.
Barnett Lotstein, spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, said the plea deal came about because there wasn’t a reasonable likelihood of conviction, but his office had an interest in ending Springfield’s police career.
“This plea puts something on his record,” Lotstein said.
Springfield admitted to the court that he touched the 16-year-old girl in a nonsexual manner, but the touch disturbed her peace, which met the definition of disorderly conduct.
A spokeswoman for the Pinal County Attorney’s Office did not return a call seeking comment.
Court documents show how the case fell apart.
“This case is all about witness credibility,” wrote Springfield’s defense attorney, Robert Kavanagh, in a June 2006 pleading.
The defense attacked the credibility of the girls, saying each had a proven history of lying.
The 14-year-old girl had reported being gang-raped to Phoenix and Mesa police and leveled sexual misconduct allegations at a neighbor, none of which were corroborated.
The girl also recanted her allegations against Springfield, saying the touch was not on purpose.
Court papers allege that the 16-year-old girl’s own family said she often lied and she accused Springfield of the sexual misconduct to get out of being grounded.
Springfield handcuffed the 16-year-old girl with her consent as part of a prank in which they would tell chaperones at a church outing she was busted with marijuana.
The girl was a relative of Springfield’s best friend, also a deputy.
The girl said he fondled her in his patrol vehicle as they drove a short distance from Canyon Lake to a campground.
Springfield said he only tied the handcuffed girl’s bikini top because it had come undone.
“The allegations made against me are not correct. They did not happen,” Springfield said in grand jury testimony.
Court records show the case took a turn in Springfield’s favor in September 2005 when Stephens found that the state gave an unfair presentation to the grand jury by withholding information that could have been favorable to him.
A new grand jury indicted Springfield again even after he testified before it and denied the allegations.