Military investigation under way into Burns police chief - WSMV News 4

Military investigation under way into Burns police chief

Posted: Updated: Aug 19, 2013 07:55 PM

A Middle Tennessee town with a history of problem police chiefs is facing yet another controversy, this time involving its new police chief.

The chief is the subject of an active military investigation after he was accused of raping a fellow soldier.

Until recently, that chief was a master sergeant in the Tennessee National Guard.

Then, a female soldier accused him of rape, and the military is now investigating her claims. The police chief says the town council knew that when they hired him, but half of the council says they never knew and wish they had.

On the night of a recent Burns City Council meeting, newly appointed police Chief Paul McCallister was scheduled to talk, but when the Channel 4 I-Team wanted to ask him questions, he wasn't found with the rest of the council and the citizens.

He was standing in a room in the dark.

"What would you say to those allegations?" asked chief investigative reporter Jeremy Finley.

"All the allegations are false, and that's all I have to say," McCallister said.

Those allegations, now the subject of a line of duty investigation with the Army National Guard, were that McCallister raped a fellow solider in 2007.

When the Channel 4 I-Team learned of the allegations, we tracked down that soldier who is now speaking out about something she never wanted to discuss publicly. But she is doing so only because McCallister is now entrusted with leading a police force.

"It infuriates me. It worries me for other females," the woman said.

This soldier says that back in 2007, she and McCallister had causal, consensual flings. She was a low-ranking soldier while he was a sergeant in the National Guard.

She then started dating a new man who she would later marry.

Then, in a sworn statement to the National Guard and in a Dickson County detective's report, the woman said that while on military duty, McCallister asked her to come to his house because he had something to give her.

"He came out and he was completely naked. And I said, 'Oh, my God. What are you doing?' I said, 'No, we aren't going to this,'" the woman said.

In the sworn statement, she goes into graphic details of the alleged rape, and according to the sworn statement to the military, the next day she reported the incident to a superior.

"Basically told me there was nothing they could do, that I would have to go to the civilian authorities or nothing, because they couldn't do anything," she said.

The woman said she was so distraught by the lack of support from the military, she decided to move on.

"Pick up the pieces of my shattered life and my military career, and go forth," she said.

She got married and went to serve in Iraq. When she returned in 2009, she says her husband urged her to go to police with the allegations.

The Dickson County detective's narrative shows she met with police and District Attorney Ray Crouch, who said he was willing to prosecute, but the woman decided she'd had enough.

"I said, 'No, thank you. I'll just let it lie again, and I'll try to move on with my life,'" she said.

But when a local sexual assault response coordinator with the army learned of the alleged incident, she encouraged the soldier to open a line of duty investigation. That investigation only determines if a soldier was injured during the line of duty.

In this case, it will determine if she was injured because of the alleged rape.

She decided to wait it out in silence until she learned of McCallister's new job.

"I was just sitting here in disbelief. I couldn't believe it. I still can't believe it," the woman said.

A statement released by McCallister's lawyer says, "He denies those allegations and has consistently denied those allegations."

The line of duty of investigation was under way at the same time McCallister was named Burns police chief.

"Do you think you should have disclosed to the city council about the allegations in this military investigation?" asked Finley.

"I've already released a statement to you, Jeremy. That's all I have. The City Council knew about the allegations," McCallister said.

Councilmen Ed "Shot" Grove and Chris Holland both told the Channel 4 I-Team they didn't know about the investigation or allegations and wish they had.

"Did you know about this military investigation until I brought it to you?" asked Finley.

"No, I didn't," Grove said.

"Should that have prevented him from being named police chief?" asked Finley.

"I think so," Grove said.

McCallister was appointed by Mayor Landon Mathis, who - along with the other two members of the council - sent a statement saying they support their new police chief.

It's a divided council facing yet another controversy with their chief. McCallister replaced the last chief who resigned in November 2012 after a sexting scandal.

Scandal in the office is something Grove knows all about. Years ago, he was removed from the police chief position as well after he made a felon a police officer.

"As a former police chief who got into some trouble yourself, is there a problem in this town with the police chiefs?" Finley asked.

"It seems to be, don't it? It really seems to be," Grove said.

Now, if the military comes back and determines the female soldier was injured, nothing will happen to McCallister.

He has not been charged with any offense and has been honorably discharged by the military.

A spokesman for the Tennessee National Guard said they don't have the authority to dishonorably discharge, and the matter was turned over to police.

The Channel 4 I-Team has filed open records requests for the military to get a copy of the line of duty investigation into McCallister, and we'll keep you posted.

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