COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A former small-town Ohio police chief who developed an outsize Facebook following for blunt, humorous commentary about the criminals he calls “mopes” found himself grouped with them Monday as he was convicted of four misdemeanors, including assault of a female officer who accused him of sexual harassment.
“You’ve become the mope that you wrote about in your book,” Portage County Judge Laurie Pittman told David Oliver, who resigned as Brimfield Township’s chief a year ago after being suspended.
Pausing before his responses, Oliver was visibly reluctant as he pleaded no contest to simple assault, unlawful restraint, attempted theft in office and unauthorized use of property. His attorney, Brian Pierce, blamed small-town politics and said Oliver entered the pleas to get some closure for his family.
Two of the charges related to physical restraint of the officer despite her objections, said Margaret Tomaro, a special prosecutor from the Ohio attorney general’s office. The other charges stemmed from allegations that Oliver mishandled money and had an unlawful silent auction with weapons that were set aside to be destroyed or used for law enforcement purposes, Tomaro said.
Oliver, 48, was sentenced to probation and must surrender his certificate to be an officer and pay $1,300 in restitution, plus a fine and court costs. A six-month jail sentence was suspended as long as he fulfills the rest of the sentence.
Oliver previously alleged his management style was being used against him. He told the judge Monday that his staff filed no grievances during his decade as chief but the situation changed with tense contract negotiations in 2014.
“I never heard anything about hostile work environment or assault,” he said.
Tomaro criticized Oliver for offering no apology.
“Perhaps Mr. Oliver should question what kind of leadership skills he used with those people, that they were too afraid to come forward until my office showed up to investigate and people were more than happy to tell us about his crappy, horrible, deplorable behavior,” Tomaro said.
The officer, Crystal Casterline, recounted her allegations, telling the judge that Oliver’s initial encouragement of her escalated into unwanted hugs, groping, pinching and punching, and verbal harassment.
“I will guarantee you that Crystal punched me as much as I punched her,” Oliver told the judge. “That’s the relationship we had.”
Casterline said the first part was true but that it was her fighting back.
“To his 177,000 Facebook followers, he was the model police chief, father, husband and man,” she said, “but inside the station, he was a sadistic, manipulative sociopath,” said Casterline, whose lawsuit against Oliver is pending.
The Associated Press generally does not identify victims of sexual crimes, but Casterline has spoken to the media about the allegations.
The single mother said she found consolation but no solution through a union representative and her supervisor, and that the situation negatively affected her health and her relationship with her children, leaving her seriously depressed and fearing for her job.
She also criticized Oliver’s sentence as being too light. Coming forward, she said, had been more costly for her than for him.
Find Kantele Franko at —http://www.twitter.com/kantele10 . Her work can be found at —http://bigstory.ap.org/author/kantele-franko .
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