Late one night in July 2009, Sachse police officer Kenneth Paul Smith happened upon a 13-year-old girl in a car with her boyfriend. When they tried to drive away, he turned on the lights and made them stop. It was around 3 a.m. when Smith arrived with the girl at her home and explained the situation to her parents. He suggested it might be good if he had a one-on-one talk with the girl, maybe talk some sense into her. The father agreed.
Smith took the girl outside and led her behind a shed where he fondled her breasts and asked her to have sex. In 2012, he pleaded guilty child molestation and was sentenced to eight years' probation. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Smith now lives in Little Elm and is unemployed.
Yesterday afternoon the girl, now old enough to file a federal lawsuit, sued Smith, the city of Sachse, and Police Chief Dennis Veach over the incident for $5 million.
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According to the complaint, Smith was trailed by allegations of violence and sexual abuse throughout his decade-long law enforcement career. In 2003, while working as an officer for the Lake Lotawana, Missouri, Police Department, a female detainee accused him of sexual assault. (An investigation found no definitive evidence of improper conduct but noted that Smith had turned off audio recording equipment for 12 minutes when it was alleged to have occurred; he was fired for repeated violations of department policy.)
The suit says Smith also regularly beat his girlfriend, once breaking her foot, another time her tailbone, then, later, began threatening harm to her and her family if she refused to have sex. In another case, he was accused of choking a man.
The city of Sachse knew of the Lake Lotawana allegations when it hired Smith, the lawsuit says. It came up when the police department was screening his application but was not enough for them to rethink his employment. The background check failed to uncover information about the other allegations, which were subsequently brought up during Smith's criminal case.
We've reached out to Veach, the Sachse police chief, for comment.