Saturday, March 1, 2003

Former officer accuses ex-chief of sex assault

The Associated Press

LEXINGTON - A former police officer accuses retired Lexington Police Chief Larry Walsh in a sworn statement that he forced her to have sex. But Walsh's attorney said the two had a consensual relationship.

The accusation comes in a deposition filed to support another officer's sexual-discrimination lawsuit, one of two suits pending against Walsh and the city. More than 50 depositions have been taken in the two cases.

A suit filed by retired Capt. Melinda Massarone was one of three filed as Walsh was leaving in 2001 after 11 years as chief. One case was dismissed late last year and the third, a racial-discrimination suit filed by Detective Billy Richmond, who is half German and half African-American, is to be tried in May.

In a deposition, former Police Officer Anna Rathke Phillips said Walsh put his hands down her pants at his Henry County farm in early January 1991, when he was giving her shooting lessons. About a week later, Phillips testified, Walsh came to her Lexington apartment and forced her to have sex.

Walsh denies Phillips' allegations, but says they had a "romantic relationship."

"Chief Walsh is shocked by the allegation," said Keith Moorman, the attorney representing Walsh and the city. "He thought they had a consensual relationship that ended on good terms. She never said anything about it before."

The deposition, however, has been forwarded to state and county prosecutors, who could launch a criminal investigation.

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