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franklin county times

Lauderdale deputy charged with sexual battery

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
June 23, 2001
A Lauderdale County sheriff's deputy was arrested Friday for allegedly soliciting sex with an inmate, the second such charge in as many months against a county law enforcement officer.
Sheriff Billy Sollie said an internal investigation beginning Friday morning led to the arrest of William Kirk Messer, 58, of Long Creek Cut-off Road.
Messer has also been fired.
When asked how Messer's arrest affects the morale of the department, Sollie said law enforcement officers must have confidence their peers are "above board" because they rely on each other in crisis situations.
The investigation stemmed from allegations by a female inmate booked into the Lauderdale County Detention Facility "on or about June 5" and released earlier this month, Sollie said.
The woman told her story to someone she knew through her church. That person called the sheriff's department, Sollie said.
Sollie said he called Messer, who was on duty at the Lauderdale County Courthouse, into his office shortly after 1 p.m. where he was terminated, arrested and charged with sexual battery by a law enforcement officer of an inmate. The charge is a felony.
Sollie said there is no indication any physical contact ever occurred and no reason to believe a relationship had developed between the two, but evidence of Messer's alleged attempt to make contact with, and solicit sex from, the woman is strong.
Messer had retired from the Meridian Police Department and was working at several local radio stations as a disc jockey. He was a former county patrolman, Sollie said, terminated by District 5 Supervisor Ray Boswell when he took office about 1 1/2 years ago. Shortly afterward, Messer was hired as a deputy to work in the courthouse as a security officer.
Sollie said this is the first time a deputy has been charged with "an offense like this," but said correctional officers have been charged in the past for similar offenses.
Correctional officer Sgt. Ralph Campbell was arrested and fired last month for allegedly having sex with an inmate. He was the supervisor in charge of the 4 p.m.-midnight shift at the jail. Campbell's case is expected to be presented to a grand jury in July.
Correctional officer Jeff Dollar was arrested in spring 1999 for the same offense. Sollie said he was later convicted.
Messer was released on a $2,500 bond. His case was discussed with District Attorney Bilbo Mitchell before the arrest and is expected to be presented to a November grand jury.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.