Two Mammoth men, one of them a member of the Mammoth Unified School District school board, were arrested Wednesday in connection with their alleged sexual involvement with a 14-year-old Santa Barbara girl.
Dr. Andrew C. Bourne, 46, a recent chief of staff at Mammoth Hospital and head of vascular surgery, and Joseph T. Walker, 48, are being held on $1 million bail each.
Walker, a former owner of the Looney Bean coffee shop, was arrested and booked on six counts of illegal communication with a minor to facilitate sexual activity and one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, said Sgt. Lorenzo Duarte, public information officer for the Santa Barbara Police Department.
Bourne was arrested and booked for eight counts of illegal communication with a minor to facilitate sexual activity, Duarte said.
Both Bourne and Walker were booked at Mono County Jail and their bail was set at $1 million each.
Bourne and Walker waived extradition and will be transported to Santa Barbara and booked into Santa Barbara County Jail.
Duarte said the investigation began in September of 2011 when suspicious emails sent to a teenage female were discovered and reported to the police which led to the recovering of more than 1,000 emails, Duarte said, which were used to obtain the arrest and search warrants in this case.
The story broke via KEY News of keyt.com in Santa Barbara Wednesday evening. It reported the two men were arrested “without incident” in Mammoth on Wednesday about 10:45 a.m.
According to the website, a parent of the alleged victim found an email about a year ago and contacted authorities.
Santa Barbara police said both men are in their 40s, married with children, are very good friends and both knew the girl’s family, KEY News reported.
Mammoth Police Chief Dan Watson, in Mammoth, said he had “no comment” if any of the alleged activity occurred in Mammoth, but added that the department’s phones have been busy.
“The Mammoth Lakes Police Department has received many calls from the media regarding the news report from a Santa Barbara outlet about arrests that occurred in Mammoth Lakes,” Chief Watson said. “I can confirm that the Mammoth Lakes Police Department assisted the Santa Barbara Police Department in the investigation.
“Because the investigation is not complete, and at the request of the Santa Barbara Police Department and Mono County District Attorney George Booth, I cannot comment any further at this time,” Watson said
Watson also said there were numerous errors in the original report.
“I am aware that a Santa Barbara media outlet published inaccurate information on its website regarding this investigation,” he wrote in an email. “It indicated that the subjects were arrested for rape. That is not accurate. The only additional information I have to add is that as of this time there is no evidence to indicate that there are any other victims.”
Mammoth Hospital’s Community Relations Director Lori Ciccarelli issued the following statement Thursday morning:
“Mammoth Hospital was saddened to learn of the charges and the arrest of its contracted physician, Dr. Andrew Bourne.
“Our thoughts go out to the alleged victim, all families involved, and to our staff and community at large. All efforts are being made to provide on-going surgical coverage. While we cannot comment on these allegations, we will continue to provide support and medical care to our community and visitors.”
The chief of staff position rotated to Dr. Audrey Pauley, who began her two-year term Jan. 1, Cicarrelli said.
In an email to the school staff last night, Superintendent Rich Boccia wrote: “Today we are all being tested. I was alerted earlier this afternoon (Wednesday) that one of our school board members has been arrested.
“There is an allegation of inappropriate behavior with a minor. God knows what the truth is and I would assume that we are all in shock, which at this time, would be an understatement.
“There is obviously an ongoing investigation. Once the dust settles, I will meet, if possible, with the board member to discuss options as related to his role as a board member.
“Most importantly, we pray for the families. We pray for the family of the board member and for the family of the alleged victim …
“All of our kids may need the additional emotional support and I will be asking the county crisis team to provide support to all of us at the school sites.
“While we appreciate the press, especially in this small community, we are focused on providing support for the family during this crisis. It would be my expectation that the press supports our privacy as a learning community.
“Most importantly, the family needs our love at this time. It would be my belief that they are in shock, as are we.
“In closing, I would appreciate you extending your thoughts and prayers to the family and can only hope and pray that we all wake up from this potential nightmare and realize that it was just that, a very, very, very bad dream.”
Bourne is board certified in Surgery and Vascular Surgery by the American Board of Surgery, according to his biography on the Mammoth Hospital website.
Bourne has served as Vice Chief of Staff at Mammoth Hospital from 2008-2010 and is the current Chief of Staff from the beginning of 2010.
He has also served on the Mammoth Unified School District Board since 2008.
Walker is an avid mountaineer and ski touring enthusiast and a member of the Mono County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team.
He was relieved of his SAR duties on Thursday.
Joe Walker and a brother, Chris, started the successful Looney Bean Coffee Roasting Company in the early 1990s before selling it. Joe Walker no longer has any connections to the Looney Bean, current owner Leila Williams said.
Walker accompanied Bourne, along with many other local residents and medical practitioners, as a volunteer on at least one out-of-country trip to provide free medical services for rural communities.
Wendilyn Grasseschi contributed to this report.