Saline Co. chief dept/Hbg School Bd president arrested on Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse chargePosted by Jack Howser on Tuesday, July 20th, 2010 @ 7:20 am.
HARRISBURG, Ill.—After what appears to have been a very lengthy interrogation, Saline County chief deputy and Harrisburg school board president Todd Fort has been arrested early this morning on a preliminary charge of Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse.
The arrest came as the result of a brief investigation by Illinois State Police into what’s apparently been going on with Fort and a 17-year-old girl (who was reportedly 16 when the alleged activity started) who has been interning at the sheriff’s department in recent months.
The whole thing exploded yesterday afternoon, not long after lunch hour, when the girl’s father spotted his daughter in Fort’s police squad at a time when she had no business being with the deputy (no excuse—not in the office, and she wasn’t babysitting Fort’s 12-year-old…both of which, reportedly, had been excuses used in the past.)
The father gave chase in his truck. It’s been reported to Disclosure that he chased Fort for at least 20 minutes through back streets of Harrisburg at speeds of up to 80-90 mph, this while on the phone to central dispatch. Dispatch ordered the father to cease chasing Fort. Finally, he did. When police located Fort’s vehicle, they located it in front of none other than reviled Harrisburg attorney Robert Wilson’s office, and the girl was nowhere in sight.
Wilson, it’s been reported, favored Fort as his “pick” for sheriff come next election.
We had initially heard that Fort was whisked into the Saline County Detention Center/sheriff’s department, where he and the girl were ultimately interviewed for a considerable number of hours, however, Saline authorities have confirmed that Fort was not interviewed at length, only the girl. Her vehicle was also confirmed as searched; it remains unconfirmed as to whether Fort’s squad was searched at length, at least at that time.
Sheriff Keith Brown was seen through the glass at SCDC late Monday night rubbing his forehead vigorously in abject angst. The matter had been taken up with him—and Fort—by the father of the girl in recent months, and Brown had defended his chief deputy.
Fort is being held at the Jackson County detention center (in Murphysboro; same elegant digs as Gallatin Co. sheriff Raymond Martin, different corner of the jail, though, as Raymondo is fed) on $250,000 bail ($25,000 cash, which he is expected to make pretty soon). There is no word on his status with either the school board or at the sheriff’s department. The particular charge as it stands right now (and it may be added to after the prosecution becomes fully involved), upon conviction, carries with it a possible 3-7 year sentence in DOC.
We have full details on this matter dating back to late last year, including previous allegations similar to this about Fort, and we will be bringing them all to you in the August Special Edition, on stands Aug. 2-4.
UPDATE 12 noon: We have just spoken with others involved in the investigation. It’s our understanding that this may not be an isolated incident. If you or someone you know has been a victim, feel free to contact us. We will put you in touch with the appropriate authorities, and your name will never be revealed. Click the ‘about’ link to obtain contact information.
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