Police Officer Abruptly Retires After Comment on Sexual Assault Case - NECN
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Police Officer Abruptly Retires After Comment on Sexual Assault Case

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    A police officer in Kingston, Massachusetts, resigned abruptly after making a comment on a scandal involving the town's fire chief.

    (Published Thursday, June 29, 2017)

    A police officer in Kingston, Massachusetts, retired abruptly after making a Facebook post referencing a recent scandal in town involving the fire chief.

    "This whole thing has taken a toll on my mental health," said 23-year-old Ryan Williams, who has accused former Kingston Fire Chief Robert Heath of sexual assault.

    Williams says he knew he might be criticized when he came forward with the allegations against the then-chief in February.

    Heath abruptly retired shortly before he was prosecuted for felony indecent assault and battery.

    But Williams said that's when the critical social media posts began – including one purportedly by part-time Kingston Police Officer Norm Harbinson posted to a town page under his wife's Facebook account – calling the investigation a "witch hunt" and saying he "CAN'T WAIT TO SEE IT DISPROVEN."

    "I think it's absolutely horrible," Williams said. "He clearly doesn't know all the facts."

    To make matters worse, Williams says Harbinson was doing police details at the mall where he worked.

    "Because if the person that assaulted me came into to the mall, violates his court order, I need that officer to make an arrest," said Williams. "And after what he wrote, I don't feel safe with him doing mall details."

    Williams says he reported the comments to the DA's office, who told him to go to the police chief.

    "We have a policy on social media that just prohibits an officer from commenting on an active investigation," Kingston Police Chief Maurice Splaine said.

    Monday, Williams filed a complaint against Harbinson.

    "We then contacted the part-time officer about the complaint on Tuesday," Splaine said. "That officer then submitted his retirement notice on Wednesday."

    It was the second sudden retirement by a Kinston official under investigation in four months.

    NBC Boston tried to contact Harbinson, but his daughter said he had no comment.

    Heath's case is due back in court July 14, 2017.

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