Wescom News Service

GOLD BEACH - Curry County Sheriff Mark Metcalf was arraigned Tuesday on an indictment handed up by a Curry County Grand Jury charging him with 11 misdemeanors, including four counts of sexual abuse in the third degree.

andquot;I am obviously unable to discuss or address any specifics of the allegations made against me, but I am asking the citizens of Curry County for the opportunity to present my case to a jury in a court of law,andquot; Metcalf said in a statement following the arraignment.

The charges in the indictment relate to alleged incidents dating back to January, 2005.

Charges of sexual abuse in the third degree, harassment and official misconduct in the first degree date back to Jan. 4, 2005, when Metcalf allegedly subjected one woman to sexual contact by touching the area of her breasts. The same woman was allegedly involved in similar charges on Feb. 8, 2005.

Similar acts were alleged to have occurred with another woman on March 23, 2006, and with a third woman in the months of March and April in 2006.

In addition to four counts of sexual abuse, Metcalf was charged with four counts of harassment and three for official misconduct in the first degree.

At Metcalf's arraignment Tuesday, Curry County Circuit Court Judge Richard Mickelson set a pretrial appearance for March 2.

andquot;Sheriff Metcalf will be on a conditional release until this date,andquot; Mickelson said.

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

Metcalf placed himself on administrative leave pending the outcome of the case. He did not say whether the leave, effective immediately, was paid or unpaid.

Cheryl A. Pellegrini, the attorney in charge of the organized crime section of the Oregon Department of Justice, is prosecuting the case.

Appearing by telephone, Pellegrini asked Judge Mickelson to order Metcalf to have no contact with the victims in person, by telephone, or any other way. She asked the judge to avoid the Curry County Annex because two of the victims work in that building.

The petition is due by Feb. 26. The recall group had 90 days to collect 1,421 signatures asking for the special election.

The Curry County Board of Commissioners issued a statement saying they had recently become aware of allegations of inappropriate workplace conduct against the sheriff.

Metcalf was elected sheriff when his term expired in 2004.