A Bucyrus police officer has resigned after being placed on paid administrative leave and investigated for several alleged sexual offenses while on the force, including touching a 4-year-old girl's buttocks in "sexual manner."
Chief Neil Assenheimer said in a summary report of the investigation that the officer confessed to several sexual offenses while undergoing a polygraph examination on Oct. 4 when he applied for a job with the Ohio Highway Patrol.
The News Journal is not naming the officer, who has not been charged criminally.
According to documents obtained by the News Journal, Assenheimer became aware of the accusations on Oct. 31, the officer was placed on paid administrative leave on Nov. 1, and he resigned from the Bucyrus Police Department on Dec. 10.
An internal investigation report, dated Nov. 11, by Bucyrus police said BPD viewed a video of the entire OHP interview and also spoke in person with the officer.
Had served as a school resource officer
The officer had served as a school resource officer and at children's Safety Town in 2019, according to previous articles in the Bucyrus Telegraph-Forum.
The investigation resulted in the officer being charged with 10 policy violations and departmental charges while he was employed by Bucyrus Police Department, and that Mansfield Police Department had opened a criminal investigation into the allegations involving the 4-year-old girl.
Mansfield police Chief Keith Porch said Friday, "I can tell you the case is finished by MPD and it was sent to the Prosecutor's Office for review. The case is in their hands."
The Bucyrus police internal investigation report listed the following violations or charges by the former officer:
Misuse of department property: The officer admitted to taking a department-owned ladder to his house to put up Christmas lights. The officer admitted he had it for four or five years.
a. Conduct unbecoming of an officer or employee; b. Obedience to laws, rules etc.: In the highway patrol polygraph interview, the officer admitted to drinking and driving in 2019. He told the examiner he had consumed approximately 6 to 8 beers in 6 to 8 hours and drove home without incident.
Conduct unbecoming an officer or employee: In the OHP interview, the officer admitted to furnishing alcohol to a person he believed to be 16 or 17 years old at the time when he was about 28 years old.
Conduct unbecoming an officer or employee: The officer admitted to furnishing alcohol to a female that he was dating when he was 29 years old. The female was 19 at the time. The officer said it likely happened two or three times a week for five months.
Conduct unbecoming an officer or employee: In the OHP interview, the officer admitted to digitally penetrating a female he was dating in a public place in 2018.
Conduct unbecoming of an officer or employee: In the OHP interview, the officer admitted to masturbating in a school resource officer's bathroom during school hours. He said this happened approximately seven to 10 times.
Offensive act which might tend to discredit the police department: In the OHP interview, the officer admitted on two different occasions in which he was accused of touching a female's buttocks, the latter incident said while he was drinking. The officer was accused of touching a female's buttocks on two other occasions.
Standards of conduct policy: In the OHP interview, the officer admitted to having sex (with his wife in 2021) while on duty approximately five times. He said they were trying to get pregnant at the time and it was on his lunch break at his house.
Conduct unbecoming of an officer or employee: In the highway patrol interview, the officer admitted to touching the buttocks of a 4-year-old girl at a cookout at a friend's house in 2017. The officer said the touching was outside of the clothing in a sexual manner. He advised that he had been drinking. The BPD report said the incident is currently under investigation by the Mansfield Police Department.
Standards of conduct: The officer failed to report that he was the subject of a criminal investigation regarding the touching of the 4-year-old girl's buttocks incident, and that he had been interviewed by Mansfield police.
The internal investigation report, signed by Bucyrus police Capt. K.L. Wert and dated Nov. 11, said the officer violated department rules and regulations of conduct, unbecoming standards and standard of conduct policies, and that some of his actions also may have violated Ohio Revised Code.
"I find that the violations warrant a need for discipline. It should also be noted that the Mansfield Police Department/Richland County Prosecutor's Office has not decided on prosecution of the officer (Name)," Wert said in the report.
A Mansfield police report was filed on Oct. 31 listing the officer's name as the suspect regarding a gross sexual imposition incident.
According to Wert, the officer said in an interview that the incidents occurred during a dark time in his life when he was having marital and drinking problems. He said the incident in which he was accused of groping of an adult female at a wedding in 2020 caused him to stop drinking. He said he has also entered a stable relationship and marriage. He said he was very regretful and embarrassed, and apologized about the incidents.
Joined Bucyrus police in 2014
The officer joined the Bucyrus Police Department in 2014 and is a U.S. Army veteran, according to a copy of his personnel file obtained by the News Journal in a public records request. He earned a Purple Heart, serving two tours as a sergeant with the United States Army in Iraq.
Bucyrus police Capt. Tom Walker, the department's public information officer, said Friday, "Our administrative investigation is complete, and the disposition was that Officer (name) voluntarily resigned."
"Our agency had never taken a complaint or had any suspicions of inappropriate [or even marginally questionable] behavior on the part of former Officer (Name). In discussion with the school district, neither did they. Matter of fact, the district advised us they'd had nothing but praise for (him,)" Walker said Friday.
Assenheimer said in a statement Friday, "Due to staffing shortages, Officer (name) was assigned to road-patrol at the conclusion of the 2021-2022 school year. Once we (BPD) found out that there was a problem (October 31, 2022), we addressed it immediately by putting him on administrative leave - and he never returned to work. Ultimately, he (name) chose to resign."
Walker added that "(he) cooperated fully and honestly throughout the entire administrative investigation, and chose to voluntarily resign."
This article originally appeared on Mansfield News Journal: Bucyrus police officer accused of sex offenses resigns