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Ohio island's police chief accused of ignoring sexual assault claims against officer in 2003

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PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio — The police chief in the Lake Erie island resort town of Put-in-Bay was charged Friday with blocking an investigation into sexual assault claims against an officer more than a decade ago and lying to investigators.

Put-in-Bay police Chief Ric Lampela was charged with four misdemeanors counts, including dereliction of duty and falsification, according to the Ohio attorney general's office.

Investigators from the state and a county sheriff's office said Lampela refused to look into claims from two police department employees who reported in 2003 that an officer had sexually assaulted them.

The police chief wanted to prevent negative publicity for the department, the state investigators said.

A message seeking comment was left for Lampela at his office Friday.

Lampela also was charged with aggravated menacing after investigators said he threatened an employee with a firearm in 2012.

He made false statements about both incidents to an investigator from the Ottawa County sheriff's office, according to the charges.

Numerous complaints about unlawful arrests and heavy-handed police tactics from residents and business owners on South Bass Island sparked the investigation, said Steve Levorchick, Ottawa County sheriff.

The Put-in-Bay police department has a small year-round staff but hires a number of seasonal officers to deal with the busy summer tourist season.

The island, with a few hundred year-round residents, sees its population swell in the summer, turning the village of Put-in-Bay into a rowdy resort town popular with boaters, bachelor parties and college students.

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