JONESVILLE — The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating a teen-age girl’s claim that she was sexually assaulted at a party held at the home of a Jonesville town councilman.
A Jonesville police officer has been suspended because alcohol was reportedly being served to minors at the party in his presence.
Mayor Ernest Moore said he was called to the town hall Monday night to meet with Police Chief Jimmy Wilkins and Union County Sheriff David Taylor. Moore said they told him that a 17-year-old girl claimed she was sexually assaulted Saturday night during a party at the home of councilman Steve Thompson.
The girl also said Officer James Owens had been drinking at the party.
Moore said Owens was called to the town hall and was asked if he'd been at the party and if he'd been drinking. He said Owens, who was off duty at the time of the party, confirmed that he and his wife had been there and that alcohol had been consumed. Moore then placed Owens on administrative leave pending the outcome of a SLED investigation.
Moore stressed that the girl did not accuse Owens of sexually assaulting her. He said he does not know the name of the woman's accused assailant.
Chief Deputy Perry Haney confirmed this morning that Owens is not a suspect in the assault. He said that the sheriff's office became involved when the girl went to the emergency room at Wallace Thomson Hospital Monday afternoon. The staff reported it to the sheriff's office and deputies were dispatched.
Haney said the girl told deputies that she was assaulted around midnight Saturday. A sexual assault kit was taken and turned over to SLED along with the report compiled by the deputies.
Haney said Taylor consulted with Wilkins and it was decided that SLED should be called in for further investigation. He said that it is standard procedure to call in SLED when an officer is involved. The investigation is continuing.
Wilkins said the girl told him Owens brought alcohol to the party. He said she claimed she and other minors consumed the alcohol in his presence.
Owens has been with the department since 2008. He could not be reached for comment this morning.
Wilkins said Owens’ suspension reduces the department to a two-man force.
Thompson declined to comment.