On January 8, 2011, police commanders first learned of allegations that Sergeant Fred Swank had sexually abused two minors nearly 17 years earlier, according to Sheriff Tom Turner.
Swank was relieved of duty and the department requested an outside investigation by the Eugene Police Department.
The investigation revealed that the abuse occurred in connection with Swank's work with the Department's Explorer program, which allows teenagers to explore law enforcement careers, said Turner.
The statute of limitations expires after the victim turns 30 years old, according to Turner. As such, no charges can be brought against Swank, though "some criminal conduct may have occurred," admitted Turner.
The case involved at least two victims, according to Turner. However, he refused to go into detail since no charges are being filed. Still, he did acknowledge that the nature of the allegations would have produced "at least" third degree sexual abuse charges, indicating that the victims were under 18 years old.
The statute of limitations has already expired for the first victim. However, a report indicates that a second victim is presently "unavailable as a witness." If that changes before expiration of the statute of limitations, charges could still be considered in that case. The cause of "unavailability" was not specified.
Prosecutors were unable to find a way to charge Swank, according to Turner. "They looked at every angle to try to see if they could make this work," he said.
In addition to the criminal investigation, the Sheriffs office had an outside investigator who is a former police sergeant conduct an administrative investigation. That investigator conducted over 200 interviews.
Turner also asked the Police Executive Research Forum to examine policies and procedures to determine if deficiencies allowed the misconduct to occur.
"It's a very hard day for the sheriff’s office," said Turner. "It's very difficult. We are committed to learning from this unfortunate event and improving our organization in whatever way we can as we move forward from this difficult situation."
In an unrelated case, Medford, Oregon police officer Tyler Chase, 23, was charged with sexual abuse and contributing to the sexual delinquency of a 17-year old girl.
Chase was hired by Medford Police Department in 2009 and was assigned to North Medford High School as a school resource officer.
Source: The Eugene Register Guard Associated Press.
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