The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has opened a case in the latest Cleveland Police Department sex scandal in which a woman who was having an affair with an officer claims she was sexually assaulted.
TBI spokesman Josh DeVine said Monday that investigators began to look into the rape allegation against Officer Carl Walls at the request of District Attorney Jimmy Dunn, who oversees the 4th District where the alleged incident took place.
Dunn said that Walls is the only known suspect in the case, but authorities are still interviewing others who may have known about the alleged incident.
A 30-year-old woman told the Times Free Press that Walls fed her hydrocodone and forced her to have sex with him after she drank half a bottle of Parrot Bay rum at a rented cabin in Gatlinburg on July 31. She claims that three other police officers from the same patrol shift also were at the cabin at the time.
Walls told the Times Free Press that he was having an affair with the woman, but he denied any criminal wrongdoing. Walls' attorney Jim Logan said Walls is working to mend his marriage with his wife.
The criminal allegations emerged after the Cleveland Police Department began to look into Walls and Officer Chad Nave's extramarital affairs. Interim Police Chief Mark Gibson said the department is conducting an internal affairs investigation on both officers to see if they broke department policy.
Both officers met the women they were seeing while on duty. Walls met the 30-year-old woman after he responded to a domestic call at her former house, according to the woman. And Nave met a 20-year-old woman during a police ride-along program, the police chief said.
The 30-year-old woman told the Times Free Press that Walls would stop by her house multiple times a week around 6:40 a.m. while on his shift to have sex. She said that she and the 20-year-old woman spent the night with Walls and Nave at a rented cabin in Gatlinburg on July 30, but left the next day.
On July 31, the men were joined by Officers Whitney Owens and John Carson, who all work on the same patrol shift, and late in the night the woman went back to the cabin to meet Walls a second time after he texted her. Gibson said Owens and Carson are being interviewed but he doesn't know if they were there at the time of the alleged incident.
Gibson said Walls admitted he was having an affair with the woman on Thursday, a day before she filed a sexual assault complaint. According to Gibson, Walls said he ended the affair and confessed the relationship to his wife.
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 former 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.
Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick Smith at email@example.com or 423-757-6659.
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.