CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Galen Reel, the former Moorefield police officer who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a woman, then later said that plea was a lie and was found not guilty of the charges, has been hired by the Petersburg Police Department, according to state records.
"This is just another example of the revolving door result that we have in West Virginia with these cops who get reported or accused of abuse or misconduct," said Aaron Harrah, the lawyer for the woman Reel is accused of assaulting. "I don't see how he can take an oath of office to serve and protect. It's just a travesty."
Chuck Sadler, state law enforcement training coordinator, confirmed that Reel was working in Petersburg as a police officer.
Petersburg officials did not return phone calls seeking comment Friday afternoon.
Reel's hiring fits a pattern of officers in West Virginia who get in trouble with one department, but still hold their certification and merely switch departments.
In a sampling of four counties -- Kanawha, Fayette, Greenbrier and Summers -- there are at least 11 other officers who continue to patrol the streets, despite leaving their previous departments under a cloud.
At about 3 a.m. on Dec. 30, 2006, Mary Ann Groves, then a 28-year-old West Virginia University student, says she was driving through Moorefield when a police car pulled out behind her.
According to Groves' testimony at the trial, Reel asked her to get out of her car to look at his police dog, and then told her to get into his car. After the two talked in his patrol car a few minutes, she says Reel groped her. She said she froze because she didn't know what to do.
"I knew that there was the dog that had already displayed aggression," she said at trial. "I knew that he was a police officer, and at this point, you can't really assault a police officer."
She testified that Reel continued to sexually assault her and then made her masturbate him.
On Jan. 9, 2008, Reel pleaded guilty to two counts of sexually motivated battery and agreed to register as a sex offender and to resign as a Moorefield police officer.