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Published: Tuesday, 7/6/2004

Toledo officer accused of sexual assault

BY ROBIN ERB
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A Toledo police officer has been accused of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old woman early yesterday morning, and he and a second officer are accused of providing alcohol to her and another 20-year-old woman.

Both officers have taken themselves off the police payroll and will be off-duty pending the results of a criminal investigation, Gregg Harris, president of the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association, said.

"Under their [labor] contract, they can do that, and it is not an admission of guilt," Mr. Harris said.

Taking leave pending the criminal investigation prevents the department's internal affairs investigators from interviewing the officers, he said. "It freezes the internal investigation until we can deal with the criminal investigation," Mr. Harris said.

The case is being handled by the department's personal assault unit, which investigates sex crimes. A news release issued by police stated the case most likely would be presented to a grand jury next week.

Police, who have briefed Mayor Jack Ford and Safety Director Joe Walter on the allegations, aren't releasing any other information about the case except to say it happened early yesterday.

Both investigators and the department's spokesman, Capt. Mike Murphy, referred all questions to Police Chief Mike Navarre, who refused to identify the officers, who were off-duty at the time of the alleged incident.

He would not say where the officers worked or how long they'd been on the department. Neither the chief nor investigators would say whether the woman sought medical treatment.

"I'm concerned about compromising the integrity of the investigation, which is extremely important for both the victim and the alleged suspect," Chief Navarre said.

Late yesterday, Mayor Ford also released a brief statement.

"I was informed of last night's incident. I have asked that the investigation be full throttle. I will wait to hear the results and discuss further action with Chief Navarre."

Blade staff writer Jack Baessler contributed to this report.

Contact Robin Erb at:

robinerb@theblade.com

or 419-724-6133.


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