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December 22, 2005
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Four former Ky. officers accused of sexual encounters sue city

By Brandon Ortiz   
HERALD-LEADER STAFF WRITER

Four of nine Ashland police officers accused of having sexual encounters with a woman while on duty sued the city today, alleging they were forced to resign for political reasons.

David Bocook, Jason Deerfield and Jeff Christian resigned after they refused to take polygraph tests regarding allegations by a 23-year-old woman, arrested on drug charges, who said she had sexual relations with the men. Another officer, Rodney Bowling, was fired after he refused to resign.

In their lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Ashland, the men say city and police officials violated the Kentucky Police Officer Bill of Rights by not obtaining a sworn statement from the woman and by requiring them to take the polygraph from a nongovernmental employee.

Attorney Shane Sidebottom said they were singled out because of their involvement with the Fraternal Order of Police, a union that is bargaining with the city over scheduling and pay scales.

The suit notes that four other officers admitted to wrongdoing -- although only two said they had sexual relations with the woman -- and kept their jobs after a 120-day unpaid suspension. Another officer now works for the Boyd County Sheriff's Department.

The 17-count lawsuit, filed by attorney Stephen D. Wolnitzek of Covington, alleges extortion, slander, false arrest, constructive discharge, abuse of process and violations of the first amendment and due process. It seeks unspecified lost wages and compensatory and punitive damages.

The suit names 13 defendants, including Chief Tom Kelley, Mayor Stephen Gilmore and City Attorney Richard Martin.

City officials declined to comment yesterday.

The woman who made the allegations is Jessica Thomas, said her attorney, Michael Curtis. She is awaiting trial on a charge that she conspired to traffic a controlled substance.

Thomas claimed the sexual encounters were consensual and occurred both on- and off-duty, Curtis said. The police investigation was "above board, 100 percent," he said.

 Lexington Herald Leader (http://www.kentucky.com/)






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