A 20+ year career with the Alexander City Police Department ended abruptly, on the wrong side of the courtroom, for Corporal Michael Patrick Ford.
Ford was originally charged with 3 counts of child sex abuse. By the time his case went before a grand jury, fresh evidence had amplified the investigation.
A grand jury
returned a 12 count indictment: 5 counts of sex abuse of a child less than 12
years of age, second degree sex abuse, 3 counts of sodomy second, incest, tampering
with evidence and theft.
"Cases of this nature typically get pushed to
the front burners because they are significantly serious cases," explained Tallapoosa County District
Attorney, E. Paul Jones.
The Tallapoosa County Sheriff's
Office took the lead on the investigation, as a neutral party. Sheriff Jimmy
Abbett describes any crime involving the badge as upsetting, something no
officer wants to discover. "It's a sad note. That officer has taken the
oath, and has sworn to uphold that oath, then goes against it," the sheriff said.
Ford was terminated promptly after charges were filed, but the story doesn't end there. Another officer, Lieutenant Randy Walters, was also arrested in connection to the case.
A grand jury indicted Walters on conspiracy for tampering with
evidence. Robinson remains on the job, engaged in a pretrial diversion
program. Acting Alex City Police Chief Willie Robinson stands behind his
decision to keep Walters on the force saying, "I believe he learned his lesson."
Jones now faces a difficult task:
preparing children under the age of 12 to testify about something they don't
fully understand. "These acts are outside their realm of knowledge and
vocabulary, so they have a hard time describing what has taken place. In some
cases, they really don't know what's right or wrong, because the person who is
doing the abusing is oftentimes the person who's charged with the
responsibility of teaching them with what's right and what's wrong."
An investigation is still underway and there's no word if additional charges will be filed.
Ford is expected to stand trial before the end of the year.
If he is found guilty on the current 12 counts, he could spend the remainder of his life behind bars.
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