Timeline of Cleveland sex scandals
Aug. 7: Officers Carlton Walls and Chad Nave are placed on administrative leave to investigate allegations of extramarital sex and a woman’s accusation that she was sexually assaulted July 31 at a rented cabin in Gatlinburg.
June: Lt. Steve Tyson and Officer Jeffrey Griggs’ demotions and reassignments upheld for policy violations related to investigation of ex-Chief Dennis Maddux’s affair with Griggs’ wife.
May: Maddux submits retirement letter after internal affairs investigators said he lied about the relationship and events involving Cindy Griggs.
February: Officer Jeff Griggs finds his wife and Maddox trysting in a car across the county line in Calhoun, Tenn.
January 2014: Longtime Chief Wes Snyder retires after surveillance video showed him meeting a woman at a warehouse storage unit fitted out with a rug, blankets and a bottle of brandy.
July 2013: Former Officer Ross Wooten is suspended and later resigns over the third allegation of sexual misconduct since he joined the department in 2004. The woman also sued him in federal court.
May 2013: Sgt. Bill Higdon is terminated for repeated policy violations two months after suggestive texts and explicit photos from him turn up on the phone of a high-dollar prostitute whose death by gunshot was ruled a suicide.
December 2011: Snyder claims there was no evidence to investigate allegations of that officers were giving pills and alcohol to teenage girls and having sex with them before one officer shot and wounded another in December 2008. An investigation led to the imprisonment of Officers Dennis Hughes and Nathan Thomas on charges of having sex with 14- and 16-year-old girls.
CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- In the latest sex scandal to rock the Cleveland Police Department, a woman claims she was part of an alcohol-filled weekend with two married police officers and another woman at a rented cabin in Gatlinburg.
Police officials said officers Carl Walls and Chad Nave brought women they both had met on duty — a 30-year-old who had reported domestic violence and a 20-year-old who'd been on a police ride-along — to the cabin on July 30, the night before a boys' weekend with two other officers on the same patrol shift.
The 30-year-old woman now claims Walls fed her hydrocodone and forced her to have sex with him after she drank half a bottle of Parrot Bay rum on the second night of the trip. Walls, an eight-year veteran of the force, admitted to the Times Free Press on Friday that he was having an extramarital affair with the woman but denied that he sexually assaulted her.
Interim Police Chief Mark Gibson said Walls had admitted an affair to him on Wednesday, a day before the woman made a claim of sexual assault. According to Gibson, Walls said he ended the affair and confessed the relationship to his wife.
Both Nave, a two-year employee, and Walls are on administrative paid leave pending an internal affairs investigation to see whether they violated department policy and while the Sevier County Sheriff's office looks into the sexual assault allegation.
These sexual misconduct allegations are just the latest in a series within the Cleveland department.
Two police chiefs retired after sex scandals, one in January 2014 after he was caught on tape rendezvousing with a woman at a storage unit, and another in May after he was caught in an affair with a subordinate's wife and lied about it to investigators. The department also saw the demotion of one ex-chief's brother-in-law for conducting multiple sexual affairs, had two officers sentenced to state prison for statutory rape and another fired and sued over allegations of sexual assault.
Gibson, who was appointed after ex-police Chief Dennis Maddux resigned in May, said the department will not tolerate misconduct.
"This is the kind of behavior that has kept us in the headlines for the last couple months," Gibson said. "We're taking action. It's embarrassing to us and a poor reflection of the majority of the officers here."
Cleveland City Councilman George Poe agreed that the allegations are embarrassing, but he dismissed the idea of a pattern of impropriety within the force.
"If we think the problem can be fixed by hiring 100 new officers and firing the ones we got, [affairs] will still happen again," he said. "It happens anywhere."
Other council members did not return calls for comment.
Gibson said the department found out about Nave's affair after Walls confessed. The chief said Nave met the 20-year-old intern after she took part in the city's police ride-along program.
The 30-year-old, who won't be named because she claims she was sexually assaulted, said Walls came to her house to investigate a report of domestic assault between her and her husband. Later, she saw Walls in court and she said she sent him a message on Facebook after he flirted with her. She said she is in the process of obtaining a divorce.
Text messages between the woman and Walls over the last two and a half months detail a secret relationship where he visited her several times a week at the beginning of his shift, around 6:40 a.m., for sex.
At the cabin on July 30, the woman said, she and Walls had sex and the officers gave the 20-year-old girl alcohol. She said both women left the cabin the next morning.
That day, July 31, Walls and Nave were joined by Officers Whitney Owens and John Carson, the police chief confirmed.
Late in the evening Walls began to text the woman.
"We did the moonshine crawl down the strip. And now my quart of shine is gone," he texted.
He asked her to come to the cabin. She said she was tired. He pleaded with her, hinting broadly that he wanted to have sex with her. She finally agreed.
"I told the guys you were coming. They said to bring friends. Lolol," Walls texted.
The woman said when she got to the cabin all the men were outside, drinking in the hot tub, and they continued to drink while she and Walls also took hydrocodone. Late in the night, she said, Walls asked her to go with him inside. She told him she was too tired to have sex. But she said he forced her onto the bed, holding her hands down, while she screamed and tried to claw at his back.
But she said she stayed another day and night with Walls and then rode home with him on Sunday morning. On the way home, she said, she confronted Walls and he explained the incident away as just rough sex.
And on Sunday at noon, Walls texted that he loved her.
After that, she said, she blocked him. And she decided to report the incident as a sexual assault after talking to her 12-year-old daughter.
Around 2 a.m. Friday, the woman went to SkyRidge Medical Center, carrying her shorts from a week ago, and told medical personnel she had been sexually assaulted. There she had a rape exam and then talked with the Bradley County Sheriff's Office, according to an incident report.
Gibson said the police department hasn't interviewed the women yet or reviewed the 30-year-old's text messages. He said he didn't know if the two other officers had been at the cabin the night of the alleged incident.
Since the alleged assault took place in Sevier County, both the sheriff and district attorney's offices were notified.
Staff writer Kendi Anderson contributed to this report.
Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6659.