Missing court file surfaces regarding mayor's alleged sex abuse - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Missing court file surfaces regarding mayor's alleged sex abuse

Mayor Mike Moore Mayor Mike Moore
Jeremy Mull Jeremy Mull
Barbara Bratcher Haas Barbara Bratcher Haas

JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) - A missing court file. A southern Indiana mayor. And sex abuse allegations that have been a mystery until now.

Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore says claims he molested a young girl in the 1980s are unfounded and a by-product of a messy divorce. Now, there are new details emerging about this case that haven't come to light because court documents were kept from public view for years.

The file, from Moore's 1985 divorce, contains allegations he sexually molested a two and a half year old girl that same year. The allegations first surfaced in 2010 when the Indiana State Police report into the claims was mailed out to voters by a political action committee during Moore's run for county commissioner. At the time, Moore told the local newspaper the allegations were drummed up by his ex-wife.

"It was unfounded," Moore was quoted as saying of the child molestation claim. "And nothing came of it."

Nothing came of the story either in large part because no one could find that ISP report or the supporting documents that went with it. That file has now been uncovered, locked away in the Clark County Clerk's office. The court records reveal there may have been more to the story than the Mayor led voters to believe.

Inside that court file is a report from the Indiana State Department of Public Welfare. It "substantiated" the sexual abuse of the child, which is too graphic to depict. The state of Indiana defines "substantiate" as "enough facts to prove that there is a preponderance of the evidence (over 51%) that child abuse and neglect has occurred."

The CPS report says Moore denied wrongdoing and asked to take a lie detector test. He failed it three times.

Whatever happened left the girl traumatized according to psychological evaluations also discovered in the court file. She would eventually be diagnosed with signs of post traumatic stress disorder.

CPS called in the Indiana State Police and ISP launched an investigation. Then, as is customary, investigators passed the case on to the Clark County Prosecutors Office to decide whether Moore would face criminal charges. The case never went any further according to Clark County chief deputy prosecutor Jeremy Mull.

"We checked through our records of things that we do have, there's no report on this," Mull said.

That's because deputy prosecutor Thomas O'Brien decided not to file a single criminal charge stemming from the alleged sexual abuse. O'Brien, now a private attorney in Lafayette, Indiana, said he doesn't remember the details of the incident or investigation.

"I do not have any recollection of the case you are referring to," O'Brien wrote in an email. "However, just because CPS (now DFC) substantiates abuse it does not always lead to prosecution. They work under different standards than the prosecutors office does. There could be many reasons a case is not prosecuted."

O'Brien did not respond a request to elaborate.

Noting that Moore was never arrested and no charges were filed, the local paper called the 2010 distribution of Moore's state police report "dirty politics." Moore went on to win the election.

The paper also reported ISP's investigative report, the one mailed out to voters, had mysteriously disappeared from Moore's divorce file. Now, we've uncovered, it was the whole file that disappeared.

"It was misplaced I'll say," said Clark County Court Clerk Barbara Bratcher Haas. "It was not in the file room where files usually are."

Unknown to Haas, Moore's divorce file was abruptly transferred to Washington County after the ISP report went public. The file ended up in the hands of a special judge who was assigned to rule on Moore's request that documents relating to his sex abuse investigation be made confidential, hidden from public view.

The judge denied that motion, but the divorce file floated between Washington County and Clark County for almost a year and a half before it was finally handed back to Haas September 2011. That's where it sat untouched until a reporter recently uncovered it.

In a statement, Moore said, "these allegations were found to be false in my divorce nearly 30 years ago and have nothing whatsoever to do with the business of the city of Jeffersonville which will remain my focus. I will have no further comment."

But it now appears the past is Moore's present as well. His ex-wife, Amy Sturgis, is suing the Clark County Clerk for failing to maintain the security of the divorce file, and letting that ISP report disappear.

The former Clark Co. Attorney, Greg Fifer, has been representing Clerk Haas in that Access to Public Records Act complaint. He said the file was not missing as long as some think.

"It is my belief that (a) this file may have been "missing" for a period of several months, but not for a period of several years, and (b) Clerk Haas has at all times properly fulfilled her duties as required by Indiana law in all respects," Fifer wrote in an email.

Sturgis is also suing the Citizens for Democracy in Government, the political action committee that mailed out the ISP report. Moore has been named as a witness in that lawsuit.

Sturgis said she remains upset no charges were ever filed in this case. She also said no one from the Clark County Prosecutors office ever spoke with her or the child, before making the decision not to file charges.

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