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Updated 3:46pm - Apr 15, 2014

Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Curry sheriff: I'm innocent

Curry sheriff: I'm innocent

WesCom Wire Service

GOLD BEACH, Ore. – Curry County Sheriff Mark Metcalf says if he is found guilty of any charge in his July trial, he will resign immediately. Metcalf made the statement in response to the second recall campaign by the group which fell short of valid signatures in an earlier attempt to vote the sheriff out of office.

"I am not guilty of the charges and look forward to the conclusion of the jury trial in July," Metcalf said Thursday. "Nonetheless, if I should be found guilty of any charge, I would resign the office of sheriff immediately."

He said with the filing of the second recall petition, he felt compelled to make some public comments.

"As reported, I'm scheduled for a jury trial in July," Metcalf said. "I previously asked the citizens of Curry County for the opportunity to present my case to a jury before public judgment is passed.

"This matter has become a firestorm of gossip, accusations and innuendo," Metcalf said.

Metcalf is scheduled to go on trial July 9 on charges handed up by a Curry County Grand Jury charging him with 11 misdemeanors, including four counts of sexual abuse in the third degree, four counts of harassment and three of official misconduct.

Judge Richard L. Barron, presiding judge of the 15th Circuit Court, will hear the case.

The last attempt to require a recall election was headed by Jim Newman as chief petitioner with David Darnell acting as treasurer.

The last try fell 139 names short of qualified voters. The 217 sheets contained 1,776 signatures, but not enough were Curry County registered voters.

The recall needed 1,421 signatures, but the Curry County Clerk/Elections Office determined there were only 1,282 valid signatures.

The same group is trying again with Marisu Terry of Gold Beach the chief petitioner and Pam Nagel of Brookings the treasurer.

Metcalf said he sought to put the whole matter to rest at the beginning by suggesting to the Attorney General's investigator that he be given a polygraph examination regarding the complaint as known at the time.

"The state chose not to offer me a polygraph examination, contrary to the usual practice, and proceeded directly to the grand jury," Metcalf said.

"In November of 2006, with the assistance of counsel, I arranged for a polygraph examination with a highly qualified former FBI polygraph examiner and instructor," he said.

"I passed that polygraph examination," Metcalf said. "I continue to believe that one of the most fundamental components of the American justice system is that a person is innocent until proven guilty."

Metcalf provided a copy of a polygraph report by H. Hadley McCann.

"Mr. Metcalf was met at his attorney's office in Eugene, Oregon," the report says. "He was advised that the examination was voluntary; he could refuse to answer any questions and end the examination at his discretion. He was provided the form ‘Polygraph Examination Consent and Release' which he read and signed. General background information was obtained from Mr. Metcalf.

"Mr. Metcalf stated that he never at any time touched Kim Woods in any sexual manner. He specifically stated that he never put his hand under her clothing and never touched her breast either over or under her clothing," the report said.

"It is the opinion of the examiner that the recorded responses to the following relevant questions are not indicative of deception," the report says.

"Did you touch Kim's breasts with your hand? Answer ‘No.'

"Did you put your hand under Kim's clothing and touch her breast? Answer ‘No.'"

The indictment lists three employees or former employees of the sheriff's department who testified before the grand jury that they were sexually harassed by Metcalf.

A lawyer for one of those employees, Kimberly Wood, currently Curry County Sheriff's Civil Deputy, has since filed a tort claims notice with the county which lists a dozen times she alleges the sheriff groped or harassed her.

The tort claim contends the sheriff's actions constitute sexual harassment. It says the sheriff has inflicted severe emotional distress upon Wood.

"It is clear that he intended his actions because he continued to harass Ms. Wood even after being told repeatedly to stop, and he knew or should have known that those acts would cause Ms. Wood severe emotional distress."

The tort claim says she has difficulty sleeping, eating and living her life normally.

"She is being treated for depression, anxiety and sleep loss," the claim says. "This suffering is ongoing. The sheriff's behavior is far beyond the bounds of socially tolerable conduct. One simply does not touch, fondle, and proposition anyone who has said no, and one does not treat an employee that way under any circumstances."

A statement released by sheriff's department employees said they had taken a no-confidence vote before the indictment was handed up on Jan. 21.

The employees said 33 votes were cast in that secret ballot, which ended with 32 saying they had no confidence in Metcalf to effectively lead the Curry County Sheriff's office and one vote of confidence in the sheriff.

 


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