Updated: Elkhart County commissioner won't face prosecution
Posted: 01/23/2013 at 4:00 pm
By: Tim Vandenack
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The Allen County Prosecutor's Office issued a statement today, Jan. 23, indicating insufficient evidence to merit prosecution.
“Based on the totality of the circumstances, we do not believe we can prove forcible sexual assault beyond a reasonable doubt,” said the statement. “Therefore, prosecution of this case is declined.”
E. Spencer Walton of Mishawaka, Rodino's lawyer, said he was pleased for Rodino. Rodino left a message at Walton's office after learning the news and Walton emailed Rodino back.
“My e-mail said I was very, very happy for him and that I'm glad that justice prevailed and they looked at the facts before rushing to judgment,” said Walton. “We're glad that (prosecutors) took an independent view, did the investigation and came to that conclusion.”
Elkhart police initially investigated the matter and the Elkhart County Prosecutor's Office subsequently asked in November that a special prosecutor be named to follow up on the investigation. Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards' office agreed to look into the case, leading to today's statement.
The initial report Allen County officials received from Elkhart “indicated that a female alleged a sexual assault” by Rodino, said the statement. And indeed, there apparently was some sort of contact between the woman and Rodino.
“This office reviewed the investigation and determined that the alleged victim admitted to prior sexual contact with Mr. Rodino,” said the statement. “Mr. Rodino also acknowledged some contact of a sexual nature.”
The apparent contact was not related to his duties as Elkhart County commissioner, said the statement, and it wasn't enough to spur charges. The statement said Richards would not be available for further comment.
Some details emerged in late November in a pair of unrelated lawsuits, filed by Tim Dugle and Amit Shah and centered on a dispute over management of the pallet company and other firms they jointly own with Rodino, the so-called Duro Entities. In court filings in that matter, meant to cast doubt on Rodino's leadership, Dugle and Shah included documents related to the Oct. 29 incident — an Elkhart General Hospital “suspected sexual assault form” and a form filed with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission.
That paperwork indicated the woman at the center of the sexual assault charges and Rodino had a business relationship and that the Oct. 29 incident that led to the investigation occurred in Elkhart on Duro property. As described by the woman in that paperwork, Rodino forcibly touched her in a sexual way.
Rodino was re-elected to his third term as an Elkhart County commissioner last November, shortly before news emerged publicly of the Oct. 29 incident. He had earlier faced allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct with employees at his companies, which emerged in connection with the Dugle lawsuit.
Elkhart County commissioner being investigated, 11/12/2012
Elkhart County commissioner denies criminal allegation, 11/12/2012
Rodino denies charges, keeps up with Elkhart County responsibilities, 11/14/2012
Business foes' court filings detail alleged sexual misdeeds against Rodino, 11/30/2012
Rodino charges business foes with improperly exploiting allegations of misdeed, 1/9/2013