Cleveland police officer accused of sexual assault - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Cleveland police officer accused of sexual assault

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CLEVELAND, TN (WRCB) -

The TBI is now looking into accusations of sexual misconduct against a Cleveland police officer. Ross Wooten is accused of sexually assaulting a woman.

The Cleveland Police Department says a woman filed a complaint against Officer Ross Wooten Tuesday and immediately put him on leave and started an internal affairs investigation. The TBI started its criminal investigation Thursday.

State investigators say a woman claims Officer Wooten came to her home and sexually assaulted her. Now on leave from the Cleveland Police Department, Channel 3 stopped by his listed address to get his side of the story. The man who answered the door denied being Officer Wooten, but his neighbors confirmed that was him and say he's not talking much about the investigation, except to request their prayers.

"We have to make sure that we're very careful and take the accusations and then investigate it and come up with who was at fault and who was wrong and handle that appropriately and we're very serious about that," Cleveland Police Officer Evie West said.

The Cleveland Police Department isn't saying if the alleged sexual assault happened while he was responding to a call, or the woman's age, just to say she is over 18.

"Accused him of touching her inappropriately," Officer West said.

We learned this is not the first time Officer Wooten has faced these type of allegations. It's the third time. The TBI arrested him in 2006 on two counts of official misconduct. One charge was dismissed. He was acquitted on the other.

"Everybody is always trying to jump on cops for doing stuff and I mean they work hard and they risk their lives every single day so why are we always jumping on them saying they're doing all these things," Cleveland resident Julie Voytso said.

News of the investigation is sparking mixed reactions from the residents the Cleveland Police Department serves.

"Police officers should definitely be held to the same standards as everybody else and it's shocking," Cleveland resident Matt Culberston said.

Several say, true or not, they're glad state and local officials are taking the allegations seriously enough to investigate.

"They're no different from any other human being. You don't go around touching other people that you shouldn't be touching," Cleveland resident Beverly Dale said.

The Cleveland Police Department says it's internal affairs investigations usually take about 15 days to complete. We put in a public records request for Officer Wooten's personnel file, but haven't received it yet.

Once the TBI's criminal investigation is complete, it will be handed over to District Attorney Steven Bebb.

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