Long-time Fayetteville Police Lt. David Webb has been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing that stemmed from a September allegation of the sexual assault of a woman alleged to have occurred a year earlier at her place of employment in Fayetteville.
Webb has resigned from the department, and two other officers have been disciplined for policy violations in connection with the case, Fayetteville Police Chief Steve Heaton said.
Heaton said that from the department’s perspective its investigation never substantiated that Webb had forced himself on the woman in the October 2008 incident that she said had occurred at her place of employment.
Consequently, said Heaton, the police investigation showed that the crime of sexual battery had not occurred, though a number of department policies had been violated. Heaton said that the matter had been turned over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) at the time and that during the department’s internal investigation Webb had declined to answer questions.
Heaton said police were contacted by the business manager Sept. 25 because Webb was said to have visited the business after having been told previously not to return. Police were called when Webb did not leave as instructed, Heaton said.
Heaton said the department’s investigation revealed that Webb had been involved in a relationship with a female employee at the business other than the one who made the allegation. However, during the prior year a total of three female employees had engaged in conversations of a sexual nature with Webb on prior occasions and that he had exposed himself to all three, said Heaton.
The GBI was asked to investigate the allegation to determine if criminal charges such as sexual battery should be brought. Heaton added that Webb had been placed on administrative leave on Sept. 25 and that the department had begun the termination process due to Webb’s policy violations, but that Webb resigned prior to the termination.
Central to the allegation of what the GBI investigated as a potential charge of sexual battery, the alleged victim told officers Webb had come into the business on an evening in October 2008 and had tried to force himself on her, pushing her against a wall and tearing her blouse while telling her he wanted to have sex with her, Heaton said.
The results of the GBI investigation were received by District Attorney Scott Ballard in early January. Commenting Monday on that report, Ballard said the GBI had “interviewed everyone related to Webb’s involvement with the ladies.” Based on the interviews the GBI did not find that any crime had been committed, he said.
Ballard said there were questions as to whether Webb’s actions were against the woman’s will and were complicated by the alleged victim’s actions relating to Webb on other occasions.
“I didn’t think we had a case we could prosecute once the jury heard the things the victim had consented to on prior occasions,” Ballard said.
In noting that the woman making the allegation waited approximately one year before leveling the accusation, Heaton said that two other Fayetteville officers had been made aware of the situation.
“She was a friend of the officers. She told them about the allegation and said she wasn’t sure she wanted to report it. She wanted the officers to give her advice and they told her to report it if she wanted to,” Heaton said.
Those two officers, Heaton said, were disciplined for not following internal policies and reporting what they had been told about a possible crime having been committed.
Commenting Monday on the incident, Heaton said, “This is not the kind of conduct we expect. Officers are expected to hold themselves and their professional conduct to the highest standards.”
And in his comments on Webb and his time with the department, Heaton said Lt. Webb had established a career path with the department, having received a promotion and had been expected to attend the FBI Command College to further his participation with the department.