Former Hickman County, Tennessee Deputy Sheriff Pleads Guilty to Civil Rights Charges
WASHINGTON - The Justice Department announced that former Hickman County Deputy Sheriff Kenneth H. Smith, 43, pleaded guilty today to violating the rights of two women by photographing parts of their unclothed bodies under the false pretense that those photographs were necessary for an official investigation. Smith also pleaded guilty to making material false statements to federal investigators. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 7, 2011, before Chief U.S. District Judge Todd J. Campbell.
“Our law enforcement officers are tasked with protecting and serving our communities, and those who use their power to take advantage of vulnerable individuals will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
While working as a deputy sheriff, Smith was assigned to investigate two domestic violence complaints. During his investigatory interviews, Smith told the victims that he needed to take photographs of their exposed bodies to document injuries, including intimate areas of their bodies where no injury had occurred. Smith, abusing his power and position, lied to the victims and claimed these photographs were necessary for the police investigation and prosecution, when in fact the photos were not for legitimate law enforcement purposes, but for himself . The victims, trusting a law enforcement officer to protect them, acquiesced to Smith’s authority.
Smith also lied to FBI agents about sending text messages to a former female inmate in which he requested the former inmate send him nude pictures of herself, in return for Smith’s help in dismissing or reducing the outstanding criminal charges against her. When Smith was confronted with photographs of the explicit text messages coming from his personal cell phone number, Smith continued to lie to FBI agents that he had not sent them.
The case has been investigated by investigators with the FBI and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal McDonough and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Saeed Mody.