|Pat Briggs, the director of the Palo Alto Children's Theatre suspended during a police investigation, is "devastated and baffled by this investigation," her attorney, Diane de Seve, said Saturday following release of a statement by police Chief Lynne Johnson.
(Read the statement)
"The outpouring of support from the community really reflects the kind of moral compass Pat has, and she would never do anything intentionally to harm the Children's Theatre," de Seve told the Weekly.
She said she wanted to "encourage the community to keep the pressure on so we get a swift resolution and get Pat back into the theater where she belongs."
She said Johnson's statement "doesn't add much to tell what the investigation is about, and I think that it's obvious that after seven months they still don't have a case together that they're still spinning their wheels to make a case."
De Seve, who works in the Palo Alto law firm of Nolan, Armstrong & Barton, also represented the late Michael Litfin, who also was placed on administrative leave in late January with Briggs and two other theater staff members.
She also challenged Johnson's statement that the department declined to question Litfin because of his illness.
"Michael did go to the station Thursday (Jan. 24) but they sent him home because the detectives were interviewing Pat for several hours," not because of his recent diagnosis of cancer, de Seve said.
By Saturday, Jan. 26, Litfin had retained de Seve -- he confided to the Weekly on Friday that he felt he had to hire an attorney, and said he was very angry about the investigation. He said he had reported thefts and even called police a few days before Jan. 24 to inquire about the status of the investigation.
De Seve said on Saturday she contacted Sgt. Michael Yore, who is heading the investigation, and "put him on notice that Michael was represented by counsel and was not to be questioned."
But on Monday, Litfin was contacted by police Capt. Mark Venable, coordinator of the investigative services division, who asked him to come in for questioning, de Seve said.
"On Tuesday I again put Det. Yore on notice not to question Michael," she said.
In the statement, Johnson says that "tens of thousands" of dollars are involved in the investigation, and that investigators are working as quickly as possible to conclude the probe.
On Jan. 24 Briggs, Litfin, Box Office Assistant Richard Curtis and Costume Supervisor Alison Williams were placed on administrative leave, with pay, pending the outcome of what police termed a "financial crimes" investigation.
Litfin, who had been undergoing chemotherapy for stomach cancer, died Feb. 1 at Stanford Hospital -- the precise cause of death has not been announced. He had earlier told the Weekly that he was optimistic about his cancer and his prognosis was 55 to 60 percent positive.
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— Jay Thorwaldson
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