Oregon City Det. Brandt Wadsworth, right, demonstrates the various cords used to hook someone into a polygraph machine in February. Pamplin Media Group blurred the face of the man who volunteered for the demonstration because he was never a suspect; he was a participant in OCPD's citizens academy.
Oregon only has about eight law enforcement officers trained to use polygraph tests for detecting deception in criminal situations, so when Hillsboro detectives wanted to crack a case about a man suspected of misrepresenting his alleged abuse, they called Oregon City Det. Brandt Wadsworth.
Wadsworth, an intern polygraph examiner, was happy to comply, knowing that Hillsboro PD would return the favor for Oregon City at the next opportunity. Besides, he needs to administer at least 200 polygraph exams over four years to become a licensed general polygraph examiner.
“I’d polygraph someone who’s suspected of lying about stealing a candy bar from Walgreens,” Wadsworth said.
Even better than holding a shoplifter to account would be to rid the streets of one more man who’s willing to molest a child and then lie about it.
“What I enjoy most about being a polygraph examiner is helping to clear the truthful person who passes the examination, and also obtaining a full confession on those that fail an examination,” Wadsworth said.
Wadworth’s suspected abuser via Hillsboro PD had defied the polygraph once before, a man named Bishop Lubbes, 26.
Lubbes would later tell police that he was sure he could defeat the test again; his first polygraph turned up inconclusive, perhaps because of his chronic use of marijuana.
Lubbes told Wadsworth that he had continued to use marijuana, but Wadsworth determined that the habitual user could appropriately proceed with the polygraph, since Lubbes was able to answer questions appropriately and follow instructions. Studies have shown even psychopaths can be polygraphed, Wadsworth said, perhaps because their brains still know the difference between truth and falsehoods.
After reading Miranda rights, Wadsworth also made sure that Lubbes was submitting himself to a polygraph voluntarily and that he had not been induced in any fashion to receive professional lie detection.
Calling him one of the smartest officers on the beat, Det. Sgt. Cynthia Gates said Wadsworth was the perfect OCPD cop to become trained in polygraph. Gates and other OCPD officers come to Wadsworth, a graduate of OCHS and Boise State University, when they need help figuring out anything involving advanced technology.
Wadsworth placed straps around Lubbes’ chest to record his breathing patterns, another around his arm to record his blood pressure, a clip on his finger to record blood pulse volume changes, and an instrument on his fingertips to record sweat gland activity. Receiving his state license to be an intern polygraph examiner two years ago, Wadsworth said a nice thing about being licensed in Oregon is the polygraph exams here are all “very standardized.”
Wadsworth first asked Lubbes a standard set of questions to determine if he was a suitable candidate to take a polygraph exam. Wadsworth then had Lubbes take a practice exam to make sure his body reacted appropriately and was a good candidate for a polygraph.
While everyone is nervous while taking a polygraph examination, Wadsworth and other examiners are trained to tell the difference between normal jitters and deception.
“We would never rely on a polygraph for probable cause,” Wadsworth said, but he noted that Lubbes showed all the usual signs of being deceptive. When answering questions about his alleged abuse, Lubbes sweated more than his baseline, and at the same time his blood pressure increased, and less blood was pumped to his extremities.
All of Lubbes’ signs of deception about the abuse case showed up clearly to Wadsworth while looking at his vitals that appear across a computer screen, much like a pulse monitor in a hospital setting. After administering the test, Wadsworth confronted Lubbes about the polygraph results, and Lubbes confessed that he had sexually abused a child, giving Wadsworth the details of his confession, which were all recorded and submitted to the Washington County District Attorney’s Office.
While some criminals like Lubbes think they can beat the test, “some people say they’ve always wanted to confess, but they just needed something like a polygraph to get them there,” Wadsworth said.
This January, Lubbes pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree sexual abuse and one count of first-degree sodomy. According to state prison officials, Lubbes’ earliest possible release date is May 2042.