Monday, March 01, 2010

Trial Starts for Officer Kenneth Tomlinson II Charged with Sexually Assaulting Boy Scout

The top police officer in a remote eastern Missouri town was ordered to stand trial Monday on charges that he sexually assaulted two members of the Boy Scout troop he led after an investigator testified that the officer had confessed to the crimes.

Kenneth Tomlinson II, 42, faces 16 counts of sodomy. Madison County Judge Robin Fulton set an arraignment date of March 18 following emotional testimony at the preliminary hearing, at which only prosecutors presented evidence. Fulton determined they had enough to warrant a trial.

Tomlinson, who stands about 6-foot-2 and weighs well over 300 pounds, sat passively during the hearing, his wrists cuffed in front of him. The alleged victims, ages 12 and 14, were also in the courtroom but mostly looked away from him.

Fulton closed the hearing to the public during testimony from the boys. The Associated Press generally does not identify those who say they were victims of sex crimes.

During the open session, a teenage girl sobbed as she testified that she became aware of the abuse on Jan. 2, when she found sexually explicit text messages on the 14-year-old boy's phone. She told her parents, who contacted police.

The case was turned over to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Investigator Scott Rawson was the first to interview Tomlinson.

"He dropped his head," Rawson testified. "I said, 'This happened, didn't it?' He shook his head yes."

Rawson said Tomlinson admitted the assaults began last spring, usually on Mondays after Scout meetings, and usually in his truck. Sometimes, Rawson said, Tomlinson would drive the boys to an old lead mine or an industrial park. Other times, the assaults happened at the location of the Scout meetings, Rawson said.

Public defender Susan DeGeorge asked whether Rawson had taped the confession, and Rawson acknowledged he was able to tape only part of it.

A probable cause statement from the Highway Patrol also said Tomlinson admitted videotaping some of the acts. The statement said Tomlinson and the boys viewed the video on the camera screen, then he destroyed the recordings.

Tomlinson joined the police department in Fredericktown — a community of 4,100 about 80 miles southwest of St. Louis — as a patrolman in 1997. He was promoted to captain, the equivalent of the town's police chief, in April. Tomlinson is on unpaid leave until the case is adjudicated, and he remains jailed on a $100,000 cash-only bond.

The judge on Monday denied a request from DeGeorge to reduce the bond and allow Tomlinson to stay near relatives in the Chicago area.

DeGeorge left the hearing without commenting to reporters.

Joe Mueller of the Boy Scouts of America's Greater St. Louis Council said the council has not been contacted by police or prosecutors and officials did not previously know that the victims were members of Tomlinson's Scout troops.

Mueller said Tomlinson had led the troops in Fredericktown since 1998. His association with Scouting was revoked after his arrest.

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