Patricia R. Wells
The Delaware County Sheriff’s deputy that emailed Ohio Sen. Kris Jordan with allegations that the sheriff’s office mishandled an investigation into a domestic incident at the Republican lawmaker’s home said he came forward because he thought it was the “right thing to do.”
“I just felt I had to do something because I felt that what had happened was because of politics, and not because (Jordan) committed a crime,” Dep. Lyle Chasse said of the DCSO investigation into a July 11 incident at Jordan’s Orange Township home. “If he committed a crime, then deputies would have arrested him that night.”
Chasse said he feels that Sheriff Walter L. Davis III, also a Republican, was driving the case for political reasons. In the email to Jordan, he said Davis was “pushing for” charges to be filed.
Responding deputies initially concluded no crime had taken place, but they were directed to change their reports to reflect that one had, Chasse said in the email.
“A couple days after the incident all the deputies that responded to your house were called into Lieutenant (Christopher) Burden’s office and each were told they needed to rewrite their report narratives to show a criminal offense took place,” Chasse wrote.
“All were showed what need to be changed or added to their reports. Sheriff (Walter L. Davis) III seemed upset that you were not charged or arrested during the incident,” Chasse wrote.
Chasse also told Jordan that one deputy’s initial written report had been suspiciously deleted. (An internal electronic review concluded that that deputy never saved the report, Davis has told the Gazette.)
Jordan has avoided commenting on the investigation into him, or his concerns with the sheriff’s office.
In a telephone interview with the Gazette, Davis categorically denied Chasse’s version of events, and questioned the deputy’s credibility.
“What he’s (Chasse) saying shouldn’t have any merit,” Davis said.
He said he expects the state investigation will show his office handled the Jordan investigation appropriately.
Davis said he had not even read the written incident report into the Jordan case until last week. He also has not listened to the 911 call Melissa Jordan made the night of July 11.
He said his office only got involved with the Jordans because of Melissa’s Jordan’s call, and that his office would be under even greater scrutiny had they not thoroughly pursued it.
“I made no decisions regarding this case. I didn’t investigate it. I don’t investigate cases. I have great supervisors and detectives who do that, because it’s not what I do,” Davis said.
In talking to the Gazette and other area media outlets, Chasse broke a DCSO policy through which Davis forbids sheriff’s employees from speaking with the media about sheriff’s office matters, Davis said. The sheriff’s office is internally investigating Chasse for misuse of computers, abuse of leave time and overall conduct, he said.
“He’s got a lot of stuff to be angry about, because I don’t think that he has been operating within the policy. And obviously his calling the media, our policy strictly prohibits that. It seems he’s willing to violate rules at any given moment,” Davis said.
Chasse is now on paid leave collecting worker’s compensation while he recovers from a May on-duty wreck, and was not involved in the investigation of the July 11 domestic incident at Jordan’s Orange Township home. However, he said his opinions are shared by others within the sheriff’s office.
Chasse’s email spurred Jordan to call at least two of off-duty deputies who responded to his home to ask them about the investigation, as documented by sheriff’s office records. He told one deputy he felt that Davis was trying ruin his political career.
Jordan’s attorney called one of those deputies while the investigation was still ongoing to inquire about the allegedly deleted report.
Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien has received a criminal complaint over Chasse’s allegations, and has asked the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation to check to see if the claims have merit.
The Jordan email and the resulting fallout is not the first time Chasse has been involved with controversy involving a local elected official in recent months.
A special prosecutor is investigating allegations that Chasse broke the law in using a police database to look up the personal information of Orange Township Fiscal Officer Joel Spitzer and another woman that was present when Chasse arrested Spitzer at the Orange Township Hall in late 2009. Spitzer ended up paying a $225 fine over a minor misdemeanor without admitting any wrongdoing.
The Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office stepped aside from that case after receiving an investigation packet from the sheriff’s office.
Spitzer has sued Chasse for $600,000 in damages, alleging in a federal lawsuit that Chasse performed the searches to retaliate against him for questioning Chasse’s version of events that led to Spitzer’s arrest on obstruction of official business. Litigation for the civil case is ongoing.
Chasse declined to discuss the lawsuit, but said he knows it complicates his decision to go public with his concerns.
“I know that because of my situation with Joel Spitzer, I was going out on a limb to notify Senator Jordan. But I just couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t let him know about the missing narrative,” Chasse said.
Melissa Jordan told a 911 dispatcher on July 11 that her husband had been drinking and had “pushed her around” at the couple’s condominium. An emotional Jordan told responding deputies that while her husband had bruised her in the past during physical altercations, her husband hadn’t hurt her that night, and that she didn’t want to press charges.
A Delaware city prosecutor who reviewed the case said there was enough evidence to move forward with a case, but said the case fell apart when Melissa Jordan did not want to cooperate.
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