An Andrews police officer on leave since shortly after being arrested on a battery charge last fall submitted his resignation Monday afternoon, March 14, to the Andrews Town Council.
"I regret that it had to come this far," Lon Whitted told council members after handing out copies of his letter of resignation, which was effective immediately.
Whitted also took issue with disparaging comments he said Councilman Ray Tackett had made on a blog - comments Tackett denied.
"Mr. Tackett, you have no right to attack my character the way you have," Whitted said. "You made no attempt to contact me to see what I had to say on the issue.
"I've resigned. I'm not in the public light from this point on. If this continues, I will seek options that I really don't care to do."
The council had called a special administrative meeting to discuss Whitted's future as a police officer, but Whitted's resignation at the beginning of the meeting made any discussion unnecessary. The victim of the battery, Lindsay Anson, had taken a seat in the meeting room with several supporters, but stormed out after council members asked her to leave so that they could talk with Whitted. A court had ordered Whitted to have no contact with Anson, council members explained, and he would have been unable to enter the meeting room if she was there.
The no-contact order was a condition of Whitted's sentence after he pleaded guilty to the battery charge.
The charge - battery resulting in a bodily injury, a Class A misdemeanor - was filed following an incident that occurred Aug. 31, 2010, in Whitted's rural Andrews home.
Anson, also of Andrews, initially reported the incident to the Huntington Police Department, but officers referred the complaint to the Indiana State Police.
ISP Det. Matt Collins testified in a probable cause hearing conducted Sept. 2, 2010, in Huntington Superior Court that both Whitted and Anson had given him similar accounts of what had happened.
Collins said that Anson had gone to Whitted's home the afternoon of Aug. 31, 2010. When Anson tried to leave, Collins said, Whitted grabbed her arm and asked her to stay. Whitted also grasped Anson's face and tried to kiss her, Collins said. Anson then left Whitted's home.
Anson said she felt pain both times Whitted touched her, and Collins said her wrist, where she said Whitted grabbed her, appeared to be swollen when he talked to her that evening.
The court initially set the case for trial before a jury on Jan. 27, but the trial was canceled when Whitted entered a guilty plea on Jan. 24. The same day he entered the plea, Whitted was sentenced by Huntington Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Heffelfinger to 365 days in the Huntington County Jail, with 359 days suspended.
Whitted was ordered to pay a total of $364 in fines, fees and court costs and was placed on probation for one year. As a condition of probation, Heffelfinger ordered Whitted to have no contact with Anson.
Whitted had served as a deputy marshal in Andrews since Sept. 11, 2006. He was placed on administrative leave without pay on Sept. 22, 2010.
In the letter he submitted to the town council on March 14, Whitted wrote:
"I am submitting my resignation as of 3/14/2011 to my position with the Andrews Police Department at the written request of Councilman Ray Tackett. I am also submitting this resignation for the fact that Mr. Tackett has deliberately discredited my character with the pubic. Being discredited this way has made it impossible for me to work with and for the public and the good citizens of Andrews. I wish the town and citizens of Andrews the best in the future and thank you for the opportunity to serve you."