Shelby County sheriff indicted for sexual battery

September 21, 2011

WAPAKONETA — Shelby County Sheriff Dean Kimpel started his Wednesday morning working at his office at the Shelby County Jail. The embattled sheriff ended his morning in a holding cell at the Auglaize County Jail after Auglaize County deputies arrested him at his office on a charge of sexual battery.A special grand jury indicted Kimpel on Tuesday on the sexual battery charge, a third-degree felony.Miami County Prosecutor Gary Nasal, who is acting as special prosecutor for the case, said the case stems from an allegation made by former Shelby County Deputy Jodi Van Fossen that Kimpel sexually assaulted her in her Wapakoneta home in July 2010.Kimpel made a brief appearance by video for a bond hearing in Auglaize County Common Pleas Court, where a judge set bond at $100,000 with a 10 percent privilege. Kimpel posted the $10,000 and was released from the Auglaize County Jail later Wednesday, according to court records.Nasal said he became involved in the case early on but that a formal criminal complaint with the Auglaize County Sheriff's Office wasn't filed until early this year. Nasal referred the case to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation in April, according to Dan Tierney, a spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's office.“Nobody's happy when they're charged with a crime. It doesn't matter who it is,” Michael Rumer, a Lima attorney representing Kimpel, said. “It's happened and we look forward to being able to present the evidence to show at the time of jury trial that the sheriff did absolutely nothing wrong.”The criminal charge isn't the only challenge facing the embattled sheriff. Nasal said he plans to file a motion this week with the Ohio Supreme Court seeking to suspend Kimpel from office. Nasal said Ohio law permits such a filing and amounts to a paid leave during the pendency of the criminal case.Chris Gibbs, chairman of the Shelby County Republican Party, said the party stands behind its November 2010 demand that Kimpel resign as sheriff.“In our belief at that time, we believed the confidence had been compromised and that confidence in the sheriff would continue to erode beyond the point of repair,” Gibbs said. “We stand behind those comments.”Gibbs said John Lenhart, who served as sheriff from 1976 to 1991, has already announced he will seek the Republican nomination for sheriff in next year's primary to oust Kimpel, who was first elected in 2008.Nasal, Tierney and Auglaize County Sheriff Al Solomon all declined to elaborate on the circumstances surrounding the indictment. Documents filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in Columbus as part of a federal lawsuit filed by Van Fossen against Kimpel, however, shed light on the allegations.According to Van Fossen's complaint, Kimpel “maintained an inappropriate working environment that was hostile to [Van Fossen] and demeaning to females. Kimpel had a reputation for sexual indiscretion in the past, having been disciplined by a previous law enforcement agency for an inappropriate relationship with a female who was his subordinate.”The federal lawsuit, a job discrimination action, seeks more than $300,000 in damages, according to court documents. Van Fossen claims in the lawsuit that on her birthday, July 24, 2010, while she was intoxicated, Kimpel sexually assaulted her at her home. Following the alleged assault, Van Fossen complained to an officer at the Sidney Police Department and upon hearing of the allegations, Kimpel and another supervisor at the sheriff's office, Capt. Michael Eilerman, harassed, intimidated and investigated Van Fossen for misconduct based upon information they knew to be false. Eilerman is also a defendant in the federal lawsuit.The lawsuit claims the charges that led to Van Fossen's termination in October were retaliation for taking her allegations of sexual assault to the Sidney Police Department. Van Fossen had only been with the sheriff's office since January 2010, according to court records.Kimpel has denied the allegations in Van Fossen's lawsuit, according to court records.You can comment on this story at