Salem cop pleads guilty in misconduct case

He had sex with the mother of a young crime victim

BY EUNICE KIM
Statesman Journal
February 10, 2007


A Salem police officer pleaded guilty Friday to official misconduct after having sex with the mother of an attempted rape victim during his investigation of the case, officials said.

Robb McCracken, 42, of West Salem resigned from the Salem Police Department before pleading guilty in Marion County Circuit Court, said Lt. Bill Kohlmeyer.

The Salem detective also gave up his certification from the state Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, which is required to be a police officer, said Deputy District Attorney Jeff Lesowski of the Washington County District Attorney's Office.

McCracken was an officer for nearly seven years and had been assigned to patrol before becoming a detective.

"He not only resigned his job in Salem, he will not work in law enforcement again either," Lesowski said.

McCracken will not serve any time in jail for the misdemeanor conviction. He will be on probation for a year, serve 120 hours of community service and is to avoid contact with the 43-year-old Northeast Salem woman with whom he had sex, Lesowski said.

"He's a fine officer, and he committed a horrible mistake," said McCracken's attorney, Jim McIntyre of Portland. "He owned up to the responsibility for his actions ... He lost his entire career."

The charge against McCracken stems from his conduct during his investigation of an attempted rape of a 14-year-old girl along Portland Road NE on Sept. 24, Lesowski said. The married, on-duty officer went to the mother's house Dec. 5 and Dec. 14 and solicited and obtained sex from her on both occasions, Lesowski said. The woman, who had been a victim of assault before, consented.

"(McCracken) started expressing a desire to become intimate with her," Lesowski said. "She didn't want to, but eventually went along with it."

Lesowski said there was not enough information to charge McCracken with a sex crime.

The Salem Police Department does not have a specific rule about having sex on duty, but there are policies, rules and procedures that "clearly prohibit things like this," he said.

"They do have rules about conduct that discredits the officer, the department, and the city," Lesowski said. "Any conduct like that is prohibited."

The Salem Police Department became aware of the allegations against McCracken Jan. 3 when the mother told her personal counselor about her relationship with the officer, Kohlmeyer said. The counselor, with the woman's consent, filed a police report.

The police department immediately asked the Oregon State Police to investigate because of the potential conflict of interest. For the same reason, the Marion County District Attorney's Office asked the Washington County District Attorney's Office to handle the case.

McCracken was relieved of his duties and placed on paid administrative leave Jan. 26.

An internal investigation is under way to determine if department procedures were violated, Kohlmeyer said.

"I am concerned anytime a police officer is alleged to be involved in criminal wrongdoing or inappropriate behavior," said Salem Police Chief Gerald Moore. "We hold our employees to very high standards, which is why we immediately asked for an outside agency to investigate the allegations of criminal misconduct."

McCracken is the third Salem officer since 1996 to resign from the department after being charged with a crime or official misconduct, Kohlmeyer said.

In 1997, officer Jerry Walton stepped down after being convicted of assaulting two drunken men he was trying to arrest. Sterling Alexander resigned in 2004 in lieu of being fired for a violation of department policies. In 2005 he was charged with rape and kidnapping in alleged incidents that occurred while he was an officer. The incidents were not related to the reasons he left the force.

In McCracken's case, Lesowski said there is thought to be no connection between his misconduct and the fact that there were no suspects found in the case he was investigating. McCracken exhausted all reasonable leads, Lesowski said.

The case was inactivated, Kohlmeyer said. It will be reassigned if a lead develops.

ekim@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 399-6721