By Valliant Corley
Wescom News Service
GOLD BEACH, Ore. Curry County Sheriff Mark Metcalf, who placed himself on administrative leave when he was arraigned earlier this month on charges of 11 misdemeanors, continues to go to his office on a regular basis, but not in uniform.
"I am the elected sheriff," Metcalf said Tuesday. "There's much I cannot delegate. I'm not here daily in uniform. I can't undo being the sheriff. Basically, I have chosen not to be in my office."
A grand jury indicted Metcalf on four counts of sexual abuse in the third degree, four of harassment and three of first-degree official misconduct. The indictment stems from a state investigation of a sexual harassment claim filed by a female county employee. Curry County Circuit Court Judge Richard Mickelson placed the sheriff on conditional release until his next scheduled court date, March 2.
"If anyone in my employ were in a similar circumstance, I would place them on administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal case," Metcalf said then. "It is for these reasons that I will myself be on leave pending the outcome of the case against me."
On Tuesday, he reiterated his hope that citizens of the county give him his chance in court before jumping to conclusions.
County Commissioner Marlyn Schafer is the commission's liaison with the sheriff's department.
"When he took a leave and put Allen (Boice) in charge, most of us weren't really clear with what he meant," Schafer said. "Our hands are kind of tied. He is an elected official. We don't have a lot of control over an elected official."
Metcalf sent a memorandum on Tuesday to explain his actions.
"As the elected sheriff of Curry County, I have many statutory and constitutional duties which I am unable by law to reassign to command staff," it said. " It is for that reason I have been coming into my office regularly and command staff has been briefing me on day to day business."
Meanwhile, Jim Newman of Citizens for an Honest Government said the group will continue with its petition drive to force a recall election for Metcalf.
The petition is due by Feb. 26, four days before Metcalf's next scheduled court appearance. The recall group had 90 days to collect 1,421 signatures asking for the special election.
Stephanie Soden, the attorney general's executive assistant, said the investigation was conducted by the Oregon Department of Justice, which conducted the grand jury investigation in Curry County.