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CA- Colleagues shocked by CHP officer's suicide

1-20-2006 California:

A 40-year-old California Highway Patrol sergeant took his life three days after Folsom police searched the officer's home, investigating a claim that he molested a 3-year-old boy, officials said Thursday. CHP officials took away Brian Frank Nicholson's gun and badge Jan. 6, the same day Folsom police executed a search warrant, said John Rolin, assistant chief of the CHP Valley Division.

"We were all shocked here, these things are all shocking," he said. "He was a very good supervisor, a great investigator. To my knowledge, there's no history of anything like this," Rolin said of Nicholson, a 17-year CHP veteran.

Folsom police spokesman Kurt Knudsen said a family friend reported on Dec. 29 that Nicholson molested the boy in November. Knudsen said the alleged conduct would have amounted to a felony. "We did not even have an opportunity to interview Mr. Nicholson because he took his life on the 9th," Knudsen said. "This was very early stages of the investigation."

Passers-by on the west side of Lake Tahoe found Nicholson's body at daybreak in the parking lot of an overlook above Emerald Bay, said El Dorado County Sheriff's Lt. Marc Adams. Officials determined that Nicholson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Investigators also found an audio recording, in which he addressed the Folsom Police Department, the CHP and his family. Adams said he would not elaborate further on the recording's contents, which were turned over to his family.

Knudsen said the 3-year-old boy was interviewed at the Sacramento County multidisciplinary interview center, which has child-oriented rooms where social workers interview possible victims of abuse and detectives watch through one-way glass. During the search of Nicholson's home, detectives confiscated two lap-top computers, a desktop computer, several cameras and two guns, said Folsom police detective Steve Robinson. "We haven't gone through the computers yet, but we didn't find anything that was startling," he said.

Folsom police notified the CHP of the investigation that day, Rolin said. The CHP began a routine investigation and relieved Nicholson of duty. "It's hard to trust our people when they're under investigation for that kind of thing," he said. ..Source.. by Christina Jewett -- Bee Staff Writer

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