Complaint Filed Against Haymarket Police
Complaint filed against Haymarket police
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By JACLYN PITTS
Saturday, May 5, 2007
Haymarket's police department has found itself embroiled in another controversy after about a year of quiet.
A 17-year-old Haymarket girl and a 30-year-old town police officer have filed complaints with the town, stating that Chief James E. Roop and some other officers accused them of having a sexual relationship, resulting in embarrassment and distress.
The girl has also filed a complaint with the office of the Commonwealth's Attorney explaining how Roop and other officers questioned her to the point she was in tears.
"I started to cry and he said he was on the fence about this and pulled up to his desk and said, 'why can't you be fat and ugly,' " she wrote in her complaint. "I was crying while in the chief's office and starting to feel very uncomfortable with his remarks."
Both the girl and the accused officer, Benjamin L. Ishmael, have denied having a sexual relationship. Ishmael was suspended without pay April 6, but the letter of suspension does not give any reason for the suspension and states Ishmael is suspended "until further notice."
However, Ishmael should have been notified "in writing of all charges, the basis therefor, and the action which may be taken" prior to his suspension, according to state code.
The suspension letter says Ishmael is suspended pending the department's consultation with an attorney about "a possible criminal investigation for misconduct on duty," but does not specify what the alleged conduct was.
Calls to the town's police department for comment were not answered.
Not only is Ishmael suspended from the force, but he now faces two charges in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court: contributing to the delinquency of a minor and giving a cigarette to a minor.
Ishmael was arraigned on the charges Thursday in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court and is scheduled for a hearing June 4.
The charges stemmed from an incident earlier this year when a witness allegedly saw Ishmael give a cigarette to the 17-year-old girl and allowed her to smoke it.
Both Ishmael and the girl deny the
"I said I joked about it on Friday with Ben because I took a cigarette from inside his car because I am always telling him not to smoke and I was messing with him and I put it back when he noticed I took it," the girl explained in her complaint.
Contributing to the delinquency of a minor is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 12 months in jail and/or a fine up to $2,500.
Giving a cigarette to a minor may result in a civil penalty of a $100 fine for a first offense.
Ishmael has also filed two complaints to Mayor Pam Stutz in April, citing workplace sexual harassment and defamation of character.
In one complaint, Ishmael alleges that Roop and Sgt. Greg Breeden have used inappropriate sexual language daily at work.
In his other complaint, Ishmael claims defamation of character in relation to the investigation involving the 17-year-old girl.
Ishmael charges that the internal investigation was not kept confidential and that before it started, many town residents already knew about the allegations against him.
"Because of the public knowledge of this false allegation upon my character, my family, as well as I, have suffered great amounts of stress," Ishmael wrote.
Town Manager Gene Swearingen could not comment on any of the allegations and said the town is "handling a personnel matter."
The town's police department has been involved in a variety of problems and changes over the past few years.
Former Officer Robert A. Hoffman Jr. was accused in late 2005 of guarding an illegal poker game in Fairfax County.
Roop and Breeden were both suspended for 15 days without pay in June 2005 after Hoffman filed complaints with the town that the two made sexually explicit comments on the job, creating a hostile work environment.
In September 2005, Breeden's estranged wife tried to get a restraining order against him after he allegedly tried to break down a door in her home in August 2005.