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Allen County prosecutor quiet on Rodino case

The Allen County prosecutor isn't saying much after being asked to review an Elkhart Police Department investigation into allegations of inappropriate sexual activity involving Elkhart County Commissioner Terry Rodino.

Posted on Nov. 14, 2012 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Nov. 14, 2012 at 5:38 a.m.

Representatives from the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office aren’t saying much a day after being asked to review a police investigation into Elkhart County Commissioner Terry Rodino.

The Elkhart Police Department investigated Rodino for alleged inappropriate sexual activity stemming from an Oct. 29 incident, according to a source familiar with the inquiry. Then on Monday, Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill asked that a special prosecutor, Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards, be appointed to review the case and decide if charges or additional actions are merited.

Richards received the case today, Nov. 13, said Robyn Niedzwiecki, public information officer for the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office. But she has not formally accepted it and Niedzwiecki didn’t say when Richards would make a decision, let alone how long the review of the case would take if she accepts it.

Details surrounding the matter are sketchy.

Hill hasn’t provided many particulars. In a press release Monday he said only that the case involved “an individual affiliated with Elkhart County government although the allegations do not apparently involve the individual’s” government connection.

Hill’s request for a special prosecutor went through Elkhart Circuit Court Judge Terry Shewmaker, who agreed Monday to the move. In seeking the action, the Elkhart County prosecutor, who has participated with Rodino and other county officials in county government leadership summits, cited a state law that allows for such appointments “to avoid the appearance of impropriety.”

Elkhart police, meanwhile, didn’t provide any information, and thus far, Rodino hasn’t responded to messages seeking comment, including one left today, Nov. 13.

OLDER ALLEGATIONS

Whatever the case, it’s not the first time Rodino has been connected to allegations of indiscretions of a sexual nature. Rodino, who serves as president of the Elkhart County Board of Commissioners, was elected to his third term in the post last week.

Former employees at one of his firms, Duro Inc., an Elkhart County pallet maker, say in affidavits in a lawsuit filed against Rodino and his company in 2004 that he made inappropriate sexual advances on them. Among other things, three former female workers, in sworn statements, described how Rodino would make crude sexual comments to them or pressure them to have sex with him.

The lawsuit, filed in Elkhart Superior Court 3, actually stems from a business dispute with a minority shareholder in his companies, Timothy Dugle, the plaintiff in the case. The affidavits, filed in the case in 2008, are apparently meant to cast doubt on Rodino’s leadership, and the Elkhart Truth received copies of them in 2010, reporting on them then.

At the time, one of Rodino’s lawyers rejected the charges in the affidavits, which are actually sealed, calling them “just garbage.” At any rate, they suggest a bitter ongoing dispute over management of Rodino’s companies with Dugle and Amit Shah, another minority stakeholder.

Shah filed suit against Rodino and his companies in Elkhart Superior Court 3 last year. In both Shah’s and Dugle’s lawsuits, they accuse Rodino, essentially, of improper management and questionable record-keeping, to the detriment of the bottom lines of the jointly owned firms.

Rodino has rejected the charges and the cases, still to be resolved, are now being overseen by a judge in LaGrange County.


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