Crime

Stoughton police officer resigns during probe launched after woman’s suicide

Friends of the woman told The Boston Globe she had a long-standing relationship with the officer and was pregnant with his baby.

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Matthew Farwell and Stoughton police Chief Donna McNamara from 2017. Facebook

Stoughton police officer Matthew Farwell, 36, resigned Friday in the midst of a year-long investigation by the police department that was prompted by the suicide of a 23-year-old woman who told her friends she was pregnant with his child, The Boston Globe reported Monday.

Farwell was put on paid administrative leave soon after Sandra Birchmore was found dead inside her apartment in Canton on Feb. 4, 2021, the Globe reported.

According to the newspaper, Birchmore had told multiple friends she had met Farwell when she was a teen and he was an instructor in a police explorers program she was attending.

Three friends told the Globe that Birchmore and Farwell started a sexual relationship when she was 15. The age of consent in Massachusetts is 16.

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Birchmore’s friends told the Globe that their relationship continued throughout his marriage to another woman, and that Birchmore told them she was pregnant with Farwell’s child in late 2020.

Farwell said in a statement to the Globe that Birchmore’s death was a tragedy, but denied committing any crimes.

A friend of Birchmore’s, Lesley Davis, 26, told the Globe Birchmore had told her about fights between her and Farwell, including one incident where she said he pushed her.

“It seemed like he was not happy about the child,” Davis told the Globe.

Davis also said she didn’t think Birchmore was being untruthful about her relationship with Farwell or being pregnant with his baby.

In May, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner found that Birchmore died by suicide and confirmed she was pregnant at the time of her death, but the identity of the father was not disclosed, the Globe reported.

State troopers with the Norfolk District Attorney’s office investigated Birchmore’s death and shared the findings with Stoughton police, which sparked the investigation into Farwell, the Globe reported.

Town Manager Robin Grimm told the Globe that when the investigation into Farwell is complete, it will be referred to the state’s Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, which has the authority to decertify police officers.

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