CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Derek S. Snavely, who was accused of raping a woman while on duty as a West Virginia State Police officer last year, is now police chief in Hinton.
A receptionist at the Hinton city building confirmed Snavely was the chief. Calls to Snavely and Mayor Joe Blankenship were not returned.
In an interview with The Charleston Gazette in December 2008, the woman said Snavely told her she was driving in the middle of the road, then performed a field sobriety test on her. She asked him if she was going to get a DUI, and he told her he didn't think she was that drunk.
Eventually they drove in separate cars to another spot, where Snavely, who is in his early 20s, began kissing and fondling her, she said. Then they drove in separate cars to her house, she said. "I went in survival mode," she said at the time. "I couldn't call anybody because he was the police."
Kanawha County prosecutors declined to bring charges against Snavely after reviewing the evidence, said Dan Holstein, assistant prosecutor for Kanawha County. The case was independently reviewed by two assistant prosecutors and they agreed that there was no prosecutable offense, he said.
In documents filed in the civil case against Snavely, he admits he had sex with the woman, though he denies many of the details of what his accuser says happened that evening.
"To have a sex offense under those circumstances, you have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was forcible compulsion. ... And in this case there was no resistance at all, not even in word," Holstein said.
Snavely resigned before State Police finished their investigation of the incident and turned the material over to the prosecutor's office, said Sgt. Michael Baylous, public information officer for the State Police.
Prosecutors reviewed all the evidence, including a videotape inside the woman's home that shows the officer there that night.
"If the Legislature wants to make it a crime to have sex with someone on duty, they can do that," Holstein said. "But so far they haven't. Just because he was a police officer and on duty doesn't mean it was a crime."
The accuser's lawyer, Mike Clifford, admits his client didn't resist. He says she couldn't under the circumstances.
"Any time a state trooper is in a squad car in uniform with a gun and a badge, the standing and negotiation powers for sex or anything else is severely restricted," Clifford said.
Clifford, who has filed multiple lawsuits accusing police officers of wrongdoing in the past year, said he tells his clients that it's best to follow police orders when they are stopped.
"Go along with whatever they do. We have the option in open court to figure it out," he said.
Problems in Hinton
There have already been allegations that Snavely, who has worked in Hinton for months, is harassing local citizens, said Andrew Maier, a local lawyer.