Sheriff takes paid leave after federal indictment involving prostitute

Published: Jul. 30, 2014 at 10:43 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 14, 2014 at 2:32 AM EDT
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U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett (Source: WAVE 3 News)
U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Brad Blackington (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Brad Blackington (Source: WAVE 3 News)

JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) - Literally and figuratively, Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden has kept his lawyer in the driver's seat - on the ride home from Indianapolis where federal agents took him following his arrest and the unsealing of his indictment.

“Danny's very disappointed in himself,” attorney Larry Wilder told reporters Wednesday. “Very concerned about what affect these allegations will have on the community and his family.”

That also weighed into Rodden’s decision to place himself on a leave of absence, rather than resign.

“Our job is to make sure our clients don't over-react,” Wilder said. And that they don't do things that at the end of the day aren't timed correctly.”

Wilder hasn’t seen the evidence, only the eight count indictment alleging Rodden lied seven different ways to federal investigators, and urged a prostitute to destroy evidence.

[RELATED DOCUMENT: Federal indictment against Danny Rodden]

"(Rodden) provided a prostitute with official law enforcement credentials and an official deputy badge of the Clark County Sheriff's Department," U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett told reporters at a July 29 news conference announcing Rodden's indictment.

Hogsett said the uniform and badge enabled the prostitute to obtain discounted rates at Louisville-area hotels. The arrangement culminated May 29, 2013, when, the indictment alleges, Sheriff Rodden met the unnamed prostitute at the Hyatt Regency in Louisville and paid her $300 to perform oral sex.

"With the evidence we have I don't feel confident that we could prove that he enticed the prostitute to cross state lines," lead prosecutor Brad Blackington conceded.

That suggests Rodden's defense might have some wiggle room. Blackington and Hogsett have refused comment on reports that the prostitute is the same informant tied to an investigation of former Boone County Sheriff Ken Campbell. Campbell resigned after the investigation became public, but he has not been charged.

Rodden's leave means that Chief Deputy John Kahafer is Clark County's acting chief law enforcement officer. Kahafer is a 33 year veteran of the department and came out of retirement seven years ago to join Rodden's administration.

"I was flabbergasted and shocked when he (Rodden) was arrested, " Kahafer told WAVE 3 News off-camera Wednesday.

"We definitely will take a morale hit and a credibility hit from this. But as I told them (the deputies) and I'm telling you – it's unfair for one man's actions to reflect an entire department."

Unless Rodden's convicted, Indiana law provides no way to force him from office.

"The sheriff is a constitutionally-elected official," said Clark County Commission President Jack Coffman. "He is not our employee."

Nor can the law prevent Rodden from drawing his $135,000 annual salary until his term ends at year's end.

"The reality is, you can't make yourself unpaid if you're an elected official," Wilder said.

Rodden plans to pay his own legal expenses, Wilder said.

"He wants to do the right thing."

For now, that appears to be to let the case run its course.

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