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Man charged with assault returned to post by Franklin County sheriff

November 21, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Franklin County Sheriff's Office employee who was charged in January with indecent assault returned to work as a metal detector operator this week, although his case is still pending.

Raymond E. Rotz, 68, of Chambersburg was on administrative leave without pay, but is back on the job, Sheriff Robert Wollyung said.

"I believe in the justice system. The man's innocent until he's proven guilty," Wollyung said Tuesday. "Did I move prematurely on it? I don't think so."

"I had him on unpaid administrative leave until we got some action out of the court," Wollyung said. Rotz has been "made an offer" by the prosecution and will soon appear in court, he said.

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"He's scheduled for disposition on Nov. 28. That's all I can say about that," Assistant District Attorney Angela Krom said. At a disposition hearing, a person can either enter a plea agreement, have the charges dismissed or be placed on the probationary Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program, she said.

Chambersburg police charged Rotz in January with the first-degree misdemeanor. According to the affidavit of probable cause, a man told police Nov. 20, 2006, he believed his 3-year-old nephew had been sexually assaulted by his downstairs neighbor, Rotz.

Rotz was in the apartment with the man and his nephew when the boy said Rotz touched him inappropriately, police said. Rotz was interviewed by police Jan. 5, police said.

District Attorney John F. Nelson said he could not comment on what the expected outcome of the case against Rotz will be, but his reaction to the reinstatement was blunt.

"I have already told my staff under no circumstances to submit to a search by him," Nelson said.

"If he was suspended at the time charges were filed, what has changed?" in Rotz's status, Nelson asked.

"Show me where there's the guilt," Wollyung said. "My investigation doesn't show it."

The Board of County Commissioners has no say in whether Rotz can resume his job with the county, Human Resources Director John Aguirre said.

"He's been an employee of the Sheriff's Department and, as an elected official, the sheriff has the right to hire, fire and discipline his staff ... not the board of commissioners," Aguirre said.

"We were unaware of any change in his legal status," Commissioner Cheryl Plummer said. "Based on the information available to us, we were surprised at the reinstatement of that employee."

The Commissioners Office has sent a letter to Wollyung "asking him to provide the pertinent information that led him to make the decision," Plummer said.

In May, another metal detector operator, Nasby E. Bowen, 67, of Chambersburg, was placed on the ARD Program for two years after he was charged with indecent assault and corruption of a minor.

Bowen had been charged by Pennsylvania State Police with having inappropriate contact with a girl at his home on a dozen or more occasions from 2000 to 2004. The charges were filed in February.

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