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Ex-officer, city issue denials in suit over alleged sexual misconduct

Did a former Powell police officer subject a woman to unwanted sexual contact in 2011, as a civil suit and criminal charges allege? He says no and the city says it doesn’t know.

Ex-officer Kirk B. Chapman and the city of Powell recently made those assertions in response to a civil suit from a woman who says Chapman subjected her to sexual contact while he was on duty.

The woman’s September lawsuit alleges Chapman negligently breached his duties as a citizen and as a peace officer. It also claims the city was negligent and “reckless in hiring Chapman due to the fact he was unfit for the position” and should have better trained and supervised him.

Attorneys representing the city and Chapman filed fairly standard responses last month that generally deny the allegations and ask for the suit to be dismissed.

Chapman is also facing a separate felony charge of third-degree sexual assault in connection with the alleged incident.

The gist of the allegation is that Chapman went to the then-Powell woman’s home one early morning in September 2011 and sexually touched and rubbed against her; he’s alleged to have used his position of authority to get her to submit to the contact while she suggested he go back to work.

Agents with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation found that Chapman’s communications with police dispatchers that night appeared to match the woman’s account.

When later questioned by DCI, Chapman denied being at the woman’s home at that time. He’s pleaded not guilty to the criminal charge and his attorney issued a blanket denial to the allegations in the civil suit in a Nov. 20 filing.

“Because of the pending criminal charges, the defendant has denied all factual allegations in order to protect his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination,” wrote Patricia L. Bach, an assistant Wyoming attorney general who’s representing Chapman in his personal capacity.

An attorney hired by the Wyoming Local Government Liability Pool, the city’s insurer, is representing Chapman in his official capacity as a Powell police officer. That attorney, Richard Rideout of Cheyenne, filed a separate response in Chapman’s defense.

Another attorney hired by the Local Government Liability Pool, Thomas Thompson of Rawlins, is representing the city of Powell and the police department.

In response to the woman’s allegations about the night in question, Thompson wrote that the city and police department are “without sufficient knowledge or information to form a belief as to the allegations contained therein and therefore deny the same.”

The Powell Police Department conducted its own investigation of the accusations made against Chapman, but its findings have not been made public. Powell Police Chief Roy Eckerdt has said that Chapman was suspended as soon as the department learned of the woman’s complaint and that the officer resigned without returning to duty.

The city and police department’s response asserts seven different defenses to the suit, including that it’s entitled to absolute immunity and that “their conduct was not the proximate cause of any alleged injuries or damages suffered by (the woman).”

Chapman’s lawyers, meanwhile, listed more than a dozen possible defenses, including that he’s entitled to immunity, that the suit was filed improperly and too late, that her claims are barred or diminished by her own comparative fault in the incident and that she or someone else is responsible for the injuries and damages she alleges.

The woman’s suit seeks $250,000 — the maximum allowed for claims against governmental agencies — for punitive damages, pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of lifestyle, emotional distress, economic losses, non-economic losses and past and future medical expenses.

Meanwhile, the criminal case against Chapman in Park County is on hold because he’s been jailed in Appleton, Wisc., since May on a charge of repeated sexual abuse of a minor.

That charge — which Chapman has also denied — alleges he had sex with a 13-year-old girl in Appleton in 2003. She came forward after learning of the allegations against Chapman in Park County. Appleton police say they have Chapman on tape admitting to the crimes.

That case may soon reach a conclusion: Wisconsin court records show Chapman is scheduled for a “plea/sentencing hearing” on Dec. 18.

Kirk Chapman

7 comments

  • posted by Air Handler

    December 24, 2014 12:52 pm

    What about the Powell / Park County resident, who entered the Maverik here in town, in late Oct, in broad daylight, on a Thursday, under the influence, buck naked, attempting to purchase 3 bottles of Vodka with no money in his hand...?

    OH, that's right... he too was a law enforcement officer, here in Park County. Maybe that is why he was only given a $110 ticket, with no need to appear before a judge?

    Mind you, he was behind the wheel of a vehicle, both too and from the Maverik that day. Witnesses immediately ID'd him by name, in fact, store video shows him entering his vehicle and departing from the premises, behind the wheel.

    Did the Powell & Park County Law Enforcement Officers wait till it was too late to give a sobriety test / blood test to this individual, because he was a former law enforcement officer? Why did the Powell Police / Park County Sheriff's Deputies just give up trying to confront this man in his home, especially since there was definitely something wrong with him, mentally or chemically? They knew him. They knew where he lived. Why was no blood test / sobriety test administered?

    What if this man had entered Maverik naked, carrying a loaded firearm? He was obviously so messed up in the head, he didn't realize he was naked, attempting to purchase Vodka with no money. What if this happened 30 minutes later, when school would have been out? Is this what we want our young children to be subject to?

    Questions only the Mayor, Powell Chief of Police & the Park County Sheriff can answer. Or, maybe its OK to show your genitals in public, walk around with no cognizant signs of sobriety or mental stability, trying to purchase Vodka with no money, but only if you were "on the inside".

    Who is liable for this man's action? What about the women who had to witness this man, obviously under the influence of some substance or mental illness, walk in and out of Maverik, naked and delusional? Oh, I guess since they were never "on the inside", their views / rights don't really matter?

  • posted by FromPowell

    December 19, 2014 9:40 am

    Yesterday, December 18, 2014, Kirk Chapman pleaded no contest to charges of repeated sexual assault of a child brought in the State of Wisconsin. The prosecuting attorney is seeking a sentence of 10 to 12 years in prison.
    The article is available here: http://www.postcrescent.com/story/news/local/2014/12/18/ex-officer-pleads-contest-sexual-assault/20614939/.

  • posted by Charles Berryman

    December 14, 2014 3:10 pm

    What most people fail to see is that if a officer puts on a uniform that says Powell Law Enforcement, the City of Powell is directly liable for that officers actions, because that officer is a employee, agent, or representative of the Corperation of the City of Powell... regardless how your personal feelings for the case is, the City of Powell has liability insurance on all of its employees and will have to pay for the misconduct of one of its employees...Any first year law student could win this case. The question is just how much are the punitive damages going to be??? Me, I would ask for at least 35 million...

  • posted by Community

    December 05, 2014 2:15 pm

    In regards to the comment left by Sarah:

    Any position paid for by the community through taxes should be monitored if not only verify the job is being done correctly, but to standard.

    However, an even larger point could be made that not only for the safety of the community but the safety of the officer he/her self could have been put in danger in any situation by not being in communication with dispatch through ought shifts.

  • posted by Sarah

    December 05, 2014 4:51 am

    And how would you like an agency to watch an officer every minute of their shift??? A lot of this falls on the individual officer to adhere to the rules and laws. This isn't the agency's fault.

  • posted by Tribunereader85

    December 04, 2014 4:52 pm

    It just shows how messed up the government really is. if this had been any other person this case would have been done and over with and justice served long ago! How horrible for this women to have had this draw out for as long as it has been, to have been treated with doubt because of the authority of this man. Sickening, does the Wisconsin case not prove what a horrible man this was. The city is just trying to cover their butts. They should pay out and use this as a major lesson. All are guilty when an on duty officer wasnt being watched!

  • posted by clipstein

    December 04, 2014 9:22 am

    what about the former police chief for hiring this man?

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