Accuser: Semen-stained items can prove assault by former police chief

MEDINA, Ohio (AP) - He was a respected, married township police chief with more than a decade of law enforcement experience in Medina County.

She was a social misfit known for being depressed, quarreling with neighbors and having problems with her former live-in boyfriend.

The 44-year-old woman told The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer for a story Sunday that she didn't think anyone would believe that then-Lafayette Township Police Chief Rick Schmidt had forced her to perform oral sex on him when responding to her complaint about harassing telephone calls.

However, the woman's claim -- and DNA evidence from semen-stained clothes and paper towels she saved -- led prosecutors to indict Schmidt, 36, on charges of rape, gross sexual imposition and
intimidation. He also was fired by township trustees in the community about 30 miles south of Cleveland.

"I'm no beauty. I'm overweight. I wasn't wearing anything revealing. I had no makeup on," the woman said. "But this is something you don't just say happened."

Records show that Schmidt was dispatched to the woman's home to talk with her about the nuisance calls, the newspaper said.

Schmidt's attorney, John Dolatowski, declined to comment when asked whether his client had sexual contact with the woman.

The woman, who was not identified by the newspaper because she claims she is a sexual assault victim, said that she called her sister, Maggie, after the alleged assault July 16.

The woman told her sister that Schmidt pinned her down and held her hair, forcing her to perform oral sex as his service revolver smacked her glasses. The woman said Schmidt cleaned himself with a paper towel, buckled up and drove away.

"You might have proof," Maggie said after listening to the story. "Save your clothes. Keep the paper towel he used to clean himself up.

"Remember Monica," Maggie said, referring to Monica Lewinsky.

The accuser then called the county prosecutor, touching off an investigation of Schmidt that also led him to be charged with groping a woman he arrested for drunken driving six years ago, and breaking into the home of another woman while on duty in 1997.

Schmidt, a former Lodi police officer who became Lafayette Township's chief in March 2000, has pleaded innocent to all charges. He has been in the Medina County Jail on $300,000 bond since Sept. 18. His trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 29.

The rape charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Schmidt also could face an additional year in prison because he is accused of committing the offenses while wearing his duty sidearm.

The woman's call prompted Medina County officials to investigate other recent claims of more than two dozen women who said they had sex with Schmidt in the past 10 years.

Sheriff Neil Hassinger said most of the sex acts were consensual but occurred on-duty, sometimes in police cars.

"It's hard for me to believe somebody in the police agency he worked for didn't know -- or wasn't aware -- of a problem, given the number of victims," he said. "Someone had to know."

Dolatowski questioned why the sheriff has referred to other women as "victims" while characterizing the sex between Schmidt and all but two of them as consensual.

Lodi Chief Stephen Sivard, Schmidt's former boss, said that only one woman formally complained, and that he referred the case to the previous sheriff. The case was re-examined after the latest complaint and led to one of the charges in the indictment.

"I can honestly say I know nothing of any sexual accusations of Rick Schmidt while he was working here," Sivard said.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)