Officer's case resembles soap opera Woman allegedly harassed ex-beau ANNAPOLIS/SOUTH COUNTY -- Davidsonville * Edgewater * Shady Side * Deale

February 05, 1993|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writer

The only thing missing was the "Days of Our Lives" theme.

Everything else was there in the trial-like drama of an Annapolis ,, police officer accused of harassing her ex-boyfriend and his new flame. The intrigue. The betrayal. The line of curious officers sipping coffee in the hall.

The accused is Officer Lisa Whiting, four-year veteran of the city police, who says only that she made a mistake in her choice of a boyfriend.

Officer Whiting faces 11 administrative charges stemming from allegations that she harassed her former boyfriend for months, threatened his girlfriend and violated a restraining order. If found to have committed the acts, she would face discipline, up to losing her job.

Her attorney, Joel L. Katz, says they are trumped-up charges from a boyfriend who continued to pursue her even after he was involved with another woman. Mr. Katz also says the department may have violated a Maryland wiretap statute by taping a phone conversation at work between Officer Whiting and the former boyfriend without her consent.

MA The first witness in the hearing was Officer Whiting's ex-boy

friend, Timothy O. Bittinger, a construction worker from Hanover. He acknowledged that he began dating another woman while he was involved with Officer Whiting.

Mr. Bittinger said he changed his phone number after he stopped seeing Officer Whiting, but she managed to track him down early one morning in October 1991.

He said that she called, then pounded on his door. They got into a fight, he testified, and he knocked her car keys into bushes. Meanwhile, his girlfriend yelled out the window, then phoned the county police, he said. A restraining order to keep Officer Whiting away from Mr. Bittinger was issued shortly thereafter.

Under questioning by Mr. Katz, Mr. Bittinger acknowledged that he visited Officer Whiting and fixed the remote unit for her television -- after the restraining order went into effect.

City Attorney Jonathan A. Hodgson, representing the police department, argued that Officer Whiting had behaved in an unprofessional manner by harassing Mr. Bittinger's new girlfriend and trying to stop the investigation by the Internal Affairs Division.

Officer Whiting is charged with taking down the license plate number of the girlfriend's car and running a police background check, then using the information to intimidate the woman, he said.

The officer is alleged to have tried to stop the investigation by drafting a letter accusing the city's internal affairs investigator of harassing her and persuading Mr. Bittinger to sign it.

Deputy Chief Joseph A. Johnson said the investigation was turned over to county police after Officer Whiting came into his office shaken and near tears and gave him the letter, which she said was from her boyfriend.

Mr. Bittinger testified that he did not write the letter, but agreed to sign it and drove with Officer Whiting to have it witnessed by a notary. He said he now disagrees with some of its content.

Mr. Katz called the investigation biased and unfair. He maintains that Officer Whiting was charged with violating the restraining order although she didn't mean to come into contact with Mr. Bittinger. He said she ran into him accidentally while going to meet a new date.

The man turned out to be the brother of Mr. Bittinger's ex-wife. Mr. Bittinger was there at the time visiting his daughter.

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