CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Princeton police officer who was knocked unconscious and got a blood clot in his brain while training at the West Virginia State Police Academy has been charged by the State Police with attempting to bribe a 17-year-old boy into sex.
Christopher Winkler was arrested and charged with one felony count of bribery on Thursday, according to a news release from the agency.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Mercer County, Winkler met the teenager in the parking lot of Grant's Supermarket in Princeton on March 1 and tried to get the boy to perform oral sex on him to "reduce a claimed monetary debt owed by the juvenile." Winkler was in uniform and on duty at the time, according to the complaint.
Winkler threatened to file felony charges against the teenager, which he said, "would prevent the juvenile from getting a job and ruin the rest of his life," according to the complaint. The officer also allegedly told the teenager that if he performed oral sex, he wouldn't call state Child Protective Services on the teen's mother.
Winkler "used his authority as an officer to scare the juvenile into cooperating," according to the complaint. The teenager said that Winkler's position as a police officer made his threats much more credible.
Winkler was arraigned in Mercer County Magistrate Court and released on a $2,500 surety bond, said Mercer County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney George Sitler.
Sitler said Winkler has been placed on administrative leave by the Princeton Police Department. WVNS-TV in Raleigh County reported that Winkler had resigned.
Reached by phone Thursday, Winkler would not comment.
Last April, Winkler was participating in required multiple-assailant training at the State Police Academy, where two instructors acted as assailants. During the training, he was struck in the head and lost consciousness.
Winkler's mother, Pamela McPeak, later told the Gazette that an instructor told her that he saved Winkler's life by pulling two other instructors off Winkler when they continued to beat him while he was unconscious.
Then-Gov. Joe Manchin requested a special commission to investigate the incident. Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants requested another independent investigation by the West Virginia Commission on Special Investigations.
Neither investigation found fault with the instructors' actions.
"It's the state investigating the state. I didn't expect much from them," Winkler said after Plants decided not to prosecute the officers. "I don't know what happened to me. I know the pain was a lot more severe when I came to."
Reach Gary Harki at gha...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.