Unequal justice favors sheriff in domestic fight

March 25, 2009
San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Pat Hedges won't run again for his job.

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Pat Hedges won’t run again for his job.


Laws written to protect domestic abuse victims were apparently sidestepped by officials of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department in an attempt to protect the county’s top cop, Sheriff Pat Hedges.

Hedges’ wife, Sandy Oneal-Hedges, called a 911 operator in January after the sheriff, according to sources, blocked her exit from a room while screaming profanities at her.

Frightened by the argument, one of two young children in the home entered the room. Sheriff Hedges then turned his verbal assault on the eight-year-old child, said a source who asked to remain unidentified.

State law requires law enforcement personnel and social workers to report domestic disturbances in which children are involved.

Asked why she did not file a report when faced with the fact that children were present, Sheriff’s Sgt. Sandra Leber, one of two deputies responding to the call, said, “There was no sign of child abuse. [And] if something happens to her (Oneal-Hedges), it is your fault. You wrote the article.”

Officials’ reports of the duration of the deputies’ visit to Hedges’ North County home vary from 15 minutes to more than one hour.

“(Undersheriff Steve) Bolts gave the correct time when he said they were there for an hour,” one source said. “Then (sheriff’s spokesman Rob) Bryn says 20 minutes, and Bolts changes his story to match Bryn’s.”

Numerous law enforcement personnel contacted by CalCoastNews agreed that domestic disturbance calls generally take longer than 20 minutes. In this case, Leber began her duties by interviewing the couple separately. Then Sheriff Hedges was allotted 15 to 20 minutes to pack up his belongings. Before he left, he was given time to say his goodbyes to the children.

Hedges moved back in the home shortly after he left. On March 22, he again moved from the home, according to court records.

On January 26, the sheriff’s records department provided a report to CalCoastNews . According to the official account, the deputy and the sergeant both arrived at 5:52 p.m. and left at 6:12 p.m

The department is required to provide a factual account of circumstances surrounding the incident, including time and location of all complaints for assistance, according to Government Code section 6254(f)(2).

Oneal-Hedges filed for a legal separation Tuesday citing irreconcilable differences. According to court records, she has access to only $200 in a joint account.

According to her declaration, Oneal-Hedges refrained from listing the couple’s alleged marital difficulties in her separation papers because of her husband’s position in the county.

Hedges has a history of alleged abusive behavior and extramarital affairs with current and former employees, according to court records and sources. Last weekend, he was spotted around town with his latest girlfriend, an ex-sheriff’s dispatcher currently working in the restaurant business.

During the past few years Hedges has been making headlines. In 2007, he arrested Charles Lynch for running a licensed medical marijuana dispensary. A year later he was accused of illegally taping a sheriff’s department employee. He recently announced he will not seek reelection.


Member Opinions:

By: tarandfeatherthejerk on 6/14/09

For the love of your country, read the constitution.

Pat Hedges is in need of tarring and feathering and run out of the country. He took an oath to uphold the Constitution and broke it.

Allowing the Constitutionally Criminal FBI to come into his town and arrest Charlie Lynch for LEGAL ACTIVITY was a total disreguard for the Constitution which I am sure Hedges is to ignorant to read or comprehend.

Pat's wife shoulda grabbed his gun and done the whole country a favor.

Charlie Lynch just got sentenced to a year in prison.

Pat Hedges and Judge George Wu need to spend a year at the bottom of a lake attached to a nice large rock. Better stay in your own states guys where you have your buddies to protect you because your disregusrd for the Constitution qualifies you to not be safe in mine.

By: johnson on 5/23/09

Again, SLO DA Shea needs to step up his game and transparently investigate his crony, er, this case.

Why is Shea delayed in doing the obvious and which assistant DA is going to run agains Shea? "Step up your gaaame!"

By: Use_it_or_Lose_it on 4/27/09

I'm using mine. Use yours and read what I wrote carefully. It's clear you did not.

By: SLOrunner on 4/18/09

USE IT OR LOSE IT – Your message seems extreme to me. You dont have to be in law enforcement to recognize that there is a huge difference in what you call "terrorist threats" and "holding a person hostage".

Again, using your reasoning, most couples in SLO county that engage in heated, angry, verbal responses, should go to jail. Guess we will need to build two or three more county jails to accomodate everyone.


By: NorthCountyGuy on 4/1/09

This is the typical M.O. of how corrupt government officials and corrupt government employees cover up for each other. They obfuscate the issues and attack whistle blowers.

By: Webelieve on 3/31/09

Again I wonder, what was on that 911 tape and the video that was screened by the press? Where's CCNews with that story? I'm sure it must back up all the accusations against the Sheriff. Or is that why we aren't seeing a new article from our fair press?

By: Use_it_or_Lose_it on 3/28/09

SLOrunner- with 30 years of experience in law enforcement, you should know that what a spouse yells can be a crime. Yelling I will kill you, etc is a crime – terrorist threats.

Blocking a doorway by standing in it, moving from side to side to prevent escape, standing tall and intimidating, these too are crimes – holding a person hostage. if this is the level of understanding of the law someone with 30 years of experience, heaven help us. – But, apparently you are not alone. Velie writes Frightened by the argument, one of two young children in the home entered the room. Sheriff Hedges then turned his verbal assault on the eight-year-old child, said a source who asked to remain unidentified. Where are the child protection staff? just because the sheriff swept it under the rug does not mean those kids are safe. Were are all the domestic violence people on this?

By: Afriendindeed on 3/28/09

Truthbeknown can attack Velie all he wants, but his outrage should be directed at Pat Hedges. This man is our top law enforcement officer and he repeatedly and publicly acts like a hound dog. Marries a woman, cheats on her, dumps her for another woman and the whole process repeats itself.

Velie has done us all a favor by calling Hedges on his childish behavior. The Tribune and New Times have been equally harsh on this man. We're all just tired of him and ask only that he grow up or go away. Or both.

By: Truthbeknown on 3/27/09

4Warn, I am simply calling it like I see it. I do not condone dishonesty in government. I support valid actions to clean up dishonesty, however that is not what this story is about. This is about the reporter's (and I use that term loosely) obvious dislike for Hedges. Reporting on professional behavior is one thing, on personal behavior is another.

And yes, my mother is proud of me.

By: 4Warn on 3/27/09

Karen & Dan:

Keep calling it like ya see it. Our County has some serious probs that must be fixed.

TruthbeKnown is far from the truth. Based on his past posts he is an Atrashcadero hack who condones dishonesty in govt.

His mother must be proud too.

By: Truthbeknown on 3/27/09

Cal Coast News said: "WHAT WE WILL DO CalCoastNews.com will continue to focus on truly important stories — stories with a public interest. By investigating unsavory business and government practices, we will stimulate positive change. We are non-partisan and adhere to the strictest journalism ethics and standards. . . "

Once again, CalCoastEnquirer has proven that they are more about humiliation, than investigation. This story has nothing to do about their stated goals, but is about kicking people when they are down.

I hope your mothers are proud of you.


By: SLOrunner on 3/27/09

With over 30 years in law enforcement, and working for agencies in three parts of the state, I would disagree with the domestic violation accusation, at least as presented in the facts online.

Yelling at a spouse, significant other, or your children, are not, in and of themselves, abuse. Standing in or blocking a doorway does not qualify either. Sure, these actions carried to extreme could rise to the level of "abuse", but that is not documented in what I read.

If law enforcement officers were to use that loose a standard for abuse, many husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends would be spending lots of time in jail.

By: Webelieve on 3/27/09

I think there are always people hurrying to judge someone. Do not judge that which you 'know' nothing about. We should walk in the shoes of the accused before 'knowing' a situation. So where are the all-knowing opinions today, post release of video and audio tapes from the Sheriff's dept? Did it demonstrate the "lies", the "shenanigans",the "Do as I say, not as I do" and "the carnage and blood" so many were certain of? Those of us who did not get the preview would really like to know from our media personnel what was there!

By: Booty_Juice on 3/27/09

Nobody could possibly be surprised by this. LE are always above the law. Everybody knows this but never want to confront reality.

By: JorgeEstrada on 3/26/09

You know if I see a road kill, I try to avoid hitting it again and if possible I take it to the side of the road so that other preditors / scavengers don't become victims too. This story is disturbing to me as I read nothing but to heck with the carnage and blood on everyone's hands.

By: TreeHugger1 on 3/26/09

Sgt. Leber probably wishes she wasn't even working that night. Hell, we had a president that lied and got sexual favors in the whitehouse. Its all the same crap. Politicians, Sheriffs,and the Chiefs of police. Double standards folks. Do as I say, not as I do. Do you think their employees are going to stick their necks out to have their heads cut off. We are in hard times. Self protection is a must. Sad but true. I feel bad for the cops who had to go to that call a deal with their "Role Model" boss.

By: Saveslocounty on 3/26/09

At least the union had the foresight to dump the Sheriff and his merry men and split from the jail guards. I'll give anyone credit when they acknowledge a mistake and take positive actions to correct it. Good job deputies. Now just distance yourself from that lame sargeant and media spokesperson who have puppet strings to the sheriff. Forget about Strobridge and Perry as they will self destruct just like Hedges.

By: HonestyPlanet on 3/25/09

…But….wasn't he backed by the Union?…

Gosh, what a surprise….

Who was it again that had Union backing for the SLO City Council race….?

Nothing worse than a politician that's bought and paid for…..except perhaps the uninformed who actually vote for them.


By: badbilly on 3/25/09

I never thought I'd say what I'm about to say [married and divorced twice :(], but I hope Sandy cleans hedges out! I hope this woman and her children get everything! What he has sown, so shall he reap!

By: mccdave on 3/25/09

Between this and all the other local law enforcement shenanigans — including a very odd CHP incident reported in the Tribune (of all places) — the reputation of cops around here is down on the floor and this conforms to my direct experience. Kudos to CalCoastNews.

"[And] if something happens to her (Oneal-Hedges), it is your fault. You wrote the article."

Priceless. Something tells me even Justice Scalia might dissent from that legal opinion. Come to think of it, I've heard a lot of cops say stupid things.

"both arrived at 5:52 p.m. and left at 6:12 p.m"

Funny how these precise times differ by an even twenty minutes.

By: Saveslocounty on 3/25/09

What happened to the opinion that followed mine from writer pathedges? Did the real Pat Hedges complain that it wasn't fair? Everyone else has to play by the book except the real Pat Hedges? Did the real Pat Hedges get his little feelings hurt?

Oh by the way Cal Coast News, your investigative reporting is outstanding but, seriously, to call the real Pat Hedges the counties "Top Cop" is pretty low.

Thanks for the link to a most interesting site http://www.recallsheriffhedges.com. At least someone has some guts to stand up to this wife abusing civil rights ignoring adulterous fiend. This man has now embarassed the fine citizens of our beautiful county throughout America. Great job Hedges. Perhaps Bryn and Bolts can make it sound like you are the victim.

By: Saveslocounty on 3/25/09

The stream of corruption from this man runs long and deep. He has demonstrated the morals of an alley cat witnessed by a covey of detectives as he was "making out" with a dispatcher at the back door of the emergency operations center. Then caught with another woman engaged in an extramarital affair inside of a car in the south county. Yes sir, that's our leader.

How can this little man skirt the law for so long. The DA won't do anything. The Grand Jury is a joke and has just stuck their head in the sand. The Attorney General is so worried about being elected as the next govornor that he chose not to do anything. And surely the FBI could find just one agent to bring this civil right violator to justice. We are in trouble folks. The lies and dishonesty are destroying the credibility of all of the fine men and women trying who work for the Sheriffs. Well, at least those who have a enough integrity to stand up to the dictator and do the right thing. Unfortunately, Leber is more concerned about her job that justice. Sad.

Wow, to blame the media or the victim of domestic violance for the actions of one little man makes me sick to my stomach. We have worked so hard to have the protections in place to protect children and it is ignored because Hedges is apparently above the law. And then Bolts and Bryn can't even get their lies straight to make a factual release of infomation.

Come on Hedges, do you not have even a shred of self respect or the decency to honor the profession enough to take your retirement and sail way? Oh and feel free to take Bonnie with you. You deserve each other.

By: slojourn on 3/25/09

Favorite quote: "[And] if something happens to her (Oneal-Hedges), it is your fault. You wrote the article."

So now we're going to blame the media for domestic abuse, too?