Officer’s case goes to grand jury
The case of a Russellville police officer accused of sexual misconduct was bound over to the grand jury on Monday after Franklin County District Judge Paula McDowell determined there was enough probable cause following witness testimony.
Police Sgt. Jeremy Shane Hall, 33, 1372 Franklin 89, Phil Campbell, was officially charged with three counts of custodial sexual abuse on March 25 following an investigation by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation.
According to witness testimony from ABI criminal investigator Cpl. Brian Faulkner, the investigation was prompted by Russellville Police Chief Chris Hargett after he received a complaint from a female inmate at the city jail who alleged Hall touched her inappropriately.
Faulkner said the female inmate accused Hall of making her perform a strip search when he let her out to get a snack at the snack machine inside the police department.
“According to [the witness], Hall told her she had to perform a strip search and told her to pull up her shirt and bra and pull down her pants,” Faulkner said. “She did, but Hall told her if she felt uncomfortable she could stop. [The witness] started to pull up her pants and she alleged that is when Hall touched her inappropriately.”
Faulkner confirmed that he had received other complaints during the course of the investigation from women who said Hall had inappropriate interactions with them while they were housed at the city jail.
In total, the complaints of three female inmates were included in the criminal charges against Hall. Faulkner said an additional charge stemming from a complaint they received after Hall’s arrest would be added during grand jury.
According to the testimony, Hall is only accused of having sexual intercourse with one of the female inmates. The others made complaints based on inappropriate touching or oral sex.
Faulkner said video surveillance helps corroborate the story of the female inmate Hall allegedly had sexual intercourse with. Faulkner testified that when Hall and the inmate went into the sergeants’ office so the inmate could call her mother, video evidence showed they were in the room for 25 minutes and 14 seconds, which is much longer than normal for a phone call.
“When they were in the room, [the witness] said Hall told her to look out the door and make sure no one was coming,” Faulkner said. “You can see [the witness] look out the door at one point and then go back inside.”
Testimony during the hearing also revealed that Hall was accused of offering female inmates privileges and an “easier time in jail” in exchange for sexual favors.
Faulkner said he interviewed Hall on three separate occasions prior to his arrest. During the first interview, Hall denied the allegations made by the original complaining witness. However, on the second interview, Faulkner said Hall admitted the female inmate lifted her shirt and pulled her pants down a little while at the snack machine, but Hall said that he looked away and told her not to do that.
“Hall said he didn’t admit this had happened during the first interview because he was nervous,” Faulkner said.
Defense attorney Sheldon Perhacs asked Faulkner if any physical evidence to corroborate the stories of any of the female inmates had been collected where the alleged sexual acts had taken place. He also pointed out that a few of the female inmates were convicted felons.
Faulkner said since the offices are cleaned on a weekly basis, a thorough search of the room had failed to provide authorities with any physical or biological evidence corroborating the inmates’ stories.
Hall remains on unpaid administrative leave from the Russellville Police Department, a status he will maintain until the outcome of the case is decided or unless the Russellville City Council decides to take a different action.
The case will now proceed to the Franklin County grand jury where jury members will listen to the facts of the case and decide whether or not to return an indictment on the charges.