Healing begins in Yukon rocked by sex scandal

Saturday, October 29th 2005, 9:21 pm

By: News On 6

YUKON, Okla. (AP) _ Residents of this Canadian County city say it is finally on the mend following a sex scandal involving police officers that brought unwelcome notoriety.

``Obviously there is right and wrong, and what happened was wrong,'' said Dan Fisher, pastor of the Trinity Baptist Church. ``It undermined trust. But I think people also realize there are some really good people on the police department.''

``It gave the whole city a black eye, and it's something that shouldn't have happened,'' said Gene Moore, a longtime barber shop owner in Yukon.

``Other people hear a little bit about what's going on and pass judgment on the whole town. It was just a few people that were in on the whole situation,'' Moore said.

The scandal unraveled shortly after a man discovered an on-duty police officer engaged in a sex act with a convenience store clerk on May 7. The clerk later identified the officer and other on-duty officers with whom she'd had sexual contact.

Four officers with more than 21 years of combined experience lost their jobs following an internal investigation.

One served an unpaid suspension. Another supervisory-level officer has been recommended for a reprimand for his knowledge of a nude photograph of the clerk taken by another officer. Disciplinary action is pending.

Police Chief Ike Shirley said the officers deprived the community at a time when they should have been on patrol. Replacements for the four who lost their jobs have been named.

Shirley said the department is tweaking an early-warning system already in place to prevent another scandal. The system provides a record of each officer's conduct and complaints made against each one. All police, including supervisors, will receive additional ethics training.

``We went through a bad time in Yukon,'' said Mayor Bob Bradway. ``I have no doubts that everyone in a position of responsibility acted in the interests of the city and the officers in question.''

Carol Carlin, who lives in Oklahoma City but works in Yukon, said her perception of the police after the scandal was one of suspicion. That changed last month when her car stalled on a busy street and a police officer helped her.

``I don't know who the officer was,'' Carlin said. ``But he called my husband. He called a tow truck. I was stranded out in the middle of Main Street. If it had not been for that cop, I would have been walking down Main Street to a gas station.''

Dianne Rhoades, owner of the Conoco store where the scandal was exposed, said she hopes the police department learns from the incident.

``I think the ones that are left here fully understand they are responsible to make that police department what it's going to be for the foreseeable future, and I think they take that seriously,'' Rhoades said.

The 24-year-old former store clerk said she is trying to move forward as well. Nine weeks of professional counseling and daily Bible devotions have helped her, she said.

``I feel better about it,'' she said. ``It made me remember what I believed in. It helped me cope with what I had done.''

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