The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, September 17, 2019 1:00 am


Due process

Sheriff's case shows wisdom of letting system work

The official investigation of an altercation involving Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux at the Three Rivers Festival July 16 is over. He has agreed to accept a pretrial diversion program that allows him to avoid trial on a misdemeanor battery charge – which he continues to deny – if he completes alcohol treatment and anger management courses and pays a small fine.

As part of the agreement, Gladieux also issued a written apology Thursday in which he acknowledged, “I failed to conduct myself in a manner fitting my office” and “brought dishonor upon the Allen County Sheriff's Office.” Though he did not directly apologize to the 15-year-old festival volunteer who was injured during the confrontation, the sheriff said he regretted his interactions with Fort Wayne Police Department officers at the scene.

Investigating a public official accused of misconduct is always challenging. The situation becomes especially delicate when the accused is the sheriff. Quite properly, local authorities quickly offloaded responsibility for this investigation to the Indiana State Police and a special prosecutor, Rodney Cummings.

Sheriff Gladieux is entitled to the same due process and presumption of innocence as anyone else caught up in the criminal justice system. But the official silence after his arrest was unusual and, considering Gladieux's position, unwise.

As Gladieux continued to serve as sheriff, the uncertainty of the situation was compounded by the almost two months that elapsed before Cummings, who is the prosecutor in Madison County, issued his findings.

From Cummings' report, Gladieux's statement and a civil suit filed by the family of the sheriff's alleged victim, the outlines of the incident have come into better focus. It's difficult to understand what took so long, but in the end, Cummings seems to have done his best to resolve the charges fairly and to address the concern raised by the sheriff's drinking and display of temper during the incident.

The matter is not over: the question of civil liability will be addressed in the case filed by the festival worker's family. More details of what happened that evening in Headwaters Park may yet emerge in those proceedings.

But though the outcome will not please everyone, the justice system is demonstrating even the county's highest law enforcement official can be held accountable for his actions.

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