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Dexter police chief, officer are indicted
Dexter's police chief and another officer have been indicted on a charge that they hindered a sex-crime prosecution of a former Dexter police officer.
The indictments allege that Chief Ken Rinehart and Sgt. Sammy Stone concealed a case where former officer Robert Kennedy had non-consensual sex with a woman. Kennedy later pleaded guilty to deviant sexual intercourse, along with two charges of statutory rape in a separate case. He was sentenced to five years of probation.
The indictment says the three officers in the Bootheel community met at "a deserted location" and Rinehart planned "to contain the matter by keeping the information between the three of them, and by recording a story in the written reprimand that Kennedy received, which was the only written Dexter PD record of the event."
The indictment says Rinehart and Stone "purposefully" failed to report the matter to authorities, failed to investigate the incident or to report the crime for prosecution.
On Friday, Dexter Mayor John Pruitt issued a statement saying Rinehart and Stone would not be suspended. Nevertheless, he said police Lt. Paul Haubold would serve as acting chief.
"We of the City have full faith in our judicial system, which provides that every person is presumed innocent until found guilty," Pruitt said. "We do not intend to pre-judge Kenny Rinehart and Sammy Stone, and ask our community not to pre-judge them."
Rinehart and Stone both posted $15,000 bonds Friday and were released.
Rinehart's attorney, John Oliver of Cape Girardeau, said he had not seen the indictment and could not comment on it. It was not known whether Stone had an attorney.
Rinehart had given his resignation to the Dexter Board of Aldermen in October following rumors of wrongdoing in his department. However, the board voted unanimously a few days later not to accept the resignation.
"I am proud and impressed that the board is willing to stand behind me and not buy into all the innuendo," Rinehart said following the October board's decision.
Three investigations into police operations in Dexter were conducted last year, two of which were connected to the Kennedy case, Pruitt had said earlier. The third investigation was performed at the request of Stoddard County prosecuting attorney Briney Welborn.