A former Medford police officer on trial for perjury this week in Jackson County Circuit Court alleges he was targeted for termination after complaining his superior officer made sexual advances toward his future wife.

A former Medford police officer on trial for perjury this week in Jackson County Circuit Court alleges he was targeted for termination after complaining his superior officer made sexual advances toward his future wife.

Joshua Danrich faces a felony charge of perjury and a misdemeanor charge of false swearing.

Top officials at the Medford Police Department are testifying at the jury trial that continues today in Judge Tim Gerking's courtroom.

The state alleges Danrich was fired in January 2010 after almost 12 years on the job because he repeatedly and willfully lied under oath about receiving a distracting phone call from his girlfriend that caused him to turn down the wrong street while responding to a routine nuisance call in August 2009. Danrich received $12,818 in unemployment benefits, said Jodee Jackson, a special prosecutor from Douglas County.

"At the end of the day, he made a false statement," Jackson said.

Danrich's attorney, Peter Carini, said in opening arguments that his client is on trial because he had the audacity to complain that Lt. Greg Lemhouse — an Ashland city councilman and his former supervisor — was hitting on Tia Jaggers, whom Danrich was dating and later married.

Danrich's performance record was spotless from his 1997 hire date to the time he lodged his 2008 complaint about his married supervisor, a fast-rising star at the MPD, making sexual advances toward the former police records clerk, Carini said.

"There's always a little more, isn't there?" Carini said to the jury in opening statements. "Now he's getting set up to get canned."

Carini said Lemhouse repeatedly made advances toward Tia Jaggers, even calling for her at Danrich's residence.

When contacted by the Mail Tribune after the close of trial Monday, Lemhouse denied Danrich's allegations.

"That is absolutely false," Lemhouse said. "The three of us were friends." He declined further comment, citing the ongoing trial.

On Aug. 28, 2009, Danrich responded to a woman's complaint about a smell in her west Medford neighborhood. Thelma Thompson, who lives on Sunset Avenue, had called 9-1-1 because she feared the stench was caused by a "meth lab." Danrich initially responded to the low priority call by cruising the area and determined the smell was fertilizer, not methamphetamine.

Thompson called 9-1-1 again and complained no one had responded. Danrich received a call from his patrol supervisor, and then he called Thompson.

"An officer ultimately called me back to ream me out about calling 9-1-1," Thompson testified.

Thompson demanded he come to her address on Sunset Avenue.

"I said, 'You lie! You are a liar. You have not been here,'" Thompson said.

Danrich, who had turned down Second Avenue instead of Sunset Avenue, came up the back way on a dirt road to where Thompson was waiting with a neighbor near her house. The two continued to argue.

After Danrich left, Thompson called to lodge a complaint with Lt. Brett Johnson. Danrich also called to warn the department that Thompson was unhappy with him, Johnson testified.

"At first I thought it was just a rudeness complaint and that I could handle it on the phone," he said. "But she was adamant I show up."

Johnson, who with Deputy Chief Tim George drove Thompson to the trial on Monday, said the investigation into the "low priority" call quickly led to suspicions that Danrich had lied about the route he had taken, and why. Records show Jaggers made five calls and texts to Danrich on the afternoon of the incident, but none sooner than 45 minutes prior to Danrich's response to Thompson's complaint, Johnson said.

Five investigative hearings ensued. Danrich was subsequently fired for insisting he had been distracted by the call, Johnson said.

"It couldn't have happened, so it was a lie," he said.

Carini questioned why Danrich would have lied about something so easily checked, unless he believed it in his mind to be true.

Then Carini asked Johnson whether he knew about Danrich's complaints about Lemhouse.

"I'm aware of it," Johnson said. "It was not in my purview (to investigate)."

Johnson said Danrich's complaint was investigated and was found not to be "a sustained complaint." But when Carini pressed for details, Johnson could not say whether anyone at MPD had contacted Tia Jaggers.

Doug Detling, Medford's human resources director, said it would be a conflict of interest for a supervisor to proposition a subordinate's girlfriend.

"That would be inappropriate behavior," Detling said, noting MPD is a "hierarchal culture."

Detling said it was Danrich's statement to an administrative law judge that he was distracted by a call from Jaggers that caused the judge to rule in his favor regarding unemployment benefits.

Detling said the city had not appealed the judge's ruling. Carini then presented Detling with a document that showed the city did appeal, and lost.

"If you made a mistake, it wouldn't be because you were committing perjury, would it?" he asked.

Sanne Specht is a reporter for the Mail Tribune. Reach her at 541-776-4497 or email sspecht@mailtribune.com.