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Former police chief, officer allege retaliation in lawsuit against Guernsey city officials

GUERNSEY— A civil lawsuit filed in federal court April 9 alleges retaliation by city officials in the forced ouster early this year of former Guernsey Chief of Police, Terri Van Dam and Guernsey police Sgt. Misty Clevenger.

In a January letter written by Van Dam, she stated she felt forced to resign because of an accusation against her for investigation of alleged unethical acts and conduct by town employees and corruption of public officials.

The investigation reportedly centered on an alleged drug ring.

The alleged unethical acts by town employees and council members may have included accessing “sensitive law enforcement email communications,” according to Clevenger. She also stated the department has reported that information to state and federal employees.

Clevenger also said in the Feb. 18 article, “I’m hindered from doing my job because all avenues of communication have been compromised.”

According to that same article, the town said that “all allegations are in the process of, or have been, investigated and to date there has been no substantiation of any allegation made against the Town of Guernsey.”

Van Dam resigned Jan. 15. She had been police chief since January 2018.

Mayor Nicholas Paustian said during the Feb. 18 council meeting that Van Dam was “very insubordinate” in her position and also claimed there were budget conflicts and that she didn’t follow directions in turning in a work schedule.

“I need to know what is going on in our town,” Paustian said. “It ’s very simple for me to do. It’s very simple for the chief to do. It’s always been done and it will continue to be done.”

Messages left for Paustian and other city officials were not returned. Likewise, attempts to contact the two women’s lawyer were unsuccessful as of press time.

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