MARTINEZ -- A decorated San Francisco police officer accused of repeatedly molesting a teenager in Concord and possessing child pornography pleaded not guilty Monday morning, claiming the sex was consensual and the victim purported to be 18 years old.
Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Bruce Mills reduced bail for Richard Hastings, 38, of Concord, from $910,000 to $100,000, against the strong objections of the prosecutor, who called the suspended cop a "danger to the community."
"As a police officer he's held to a higher standard in our community," said prosecutor Alison Chandler. "You have a police officer who children are taught to go to for protection and safety."
Hastings has been charged with nine counts of lewd acts on a 15-year-old boy spanning June to August 2013 and one count of possessing child pornography.
Hastings has been a San Francisco police officer since 2001. He won the department's highest honor for his role in a 2011 fatal officer-involved shooting. He was suspended without pay after his molestation arrest by Concord police in August, according to a San Francisco police spokeswoman.
On Monday, Hastings' attorney Eileen Burke said her client was not a threat and met the boy on a dating site where he purported to be over the legal consent age.
"He's no more a danger to the public than anyone who signs up for an online dating service who represents themselves to be over 18," Burke said.
Chandler argued that the boy was clearly underage, however, as evidenced by Concord police breaking the case after detaining the boy for violating the city's curfew during one of 10 meetings with Hastings. In Concord, under most circumstances children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult when out in public between midnight and 5 a.m.
"This is not Match.com, this is not the victim's fault," Chandler said. "Consent is not a defense. We should not be talking about the victim."
Chandler said the boy would meet Hastings on a street corner late at night and have sex in the officer's car.
When confronted by Concord investigators, Hastings told police: "Don't worry, I'm a police officer, we're fine," Chandler said.
In 2012, Hastings received a Gold Medal of Valor for his role in a July 16, 2011, shootout near a Bayview district MUNI stop in San Francisco.
Hastings and his partner tried to stop Kenneth Harding Jr., 19, after he failed to pay his fare and the Washington state parolee fled. Police said Harding Jr. fired shots at the two officers, who returned fire, hitting him in the leg. Police said Harding Jr. then fired a fatal shot into his own body.
Harding Jr.'s family has sued the department, including Hastings.
"Since the shooting a few years ago, he decided to engage in riskier business," Chandler told the judge Monday.
Investigators found child porn featuring an 8-year-old boy involved in sexual conduct on an electronic device owned by Hastings, Chandler said. She added that Hastings used a gay dating app called "Hornet" so many of his actions "could be erased."
Appearing in a yellow prison jumpsuit with closely cropped black hair and glasses, Hastings stood silently for most of his arraignment, at one point replying "Yes, sir" to the judge when asked if he pleaded not guilty. His next hearing is March 7.
Contact Matthias Gafni at 925-952-5026. Follow him at Twitter.com/mgafni.