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Marysville Police Chief Steps Down Amid Sexual Assault Allegations

MARYSVILLE (CBS13) – The police chief is off the job following allegations of sexual assault from nearly a decade ago.

Four separate search warrants outline the allegations of sexual assault against Marysville Police Chief Aaron Easton.

A woman told Yuba County Sheriff's detectives she was sexually assaulted as a police cadet during a ride along with Easton who was then her instructor and a Yuba County Sheriff's deputy.

"If it happened, you know there's got to be a penalty for it. It's kind of disgusting if it did happen because it supposed to be someone you can trust," said a Yuba College parent, Robert Hernandez. "It's going to be hard to prove."

The woman, who is not being named, said she was on her third ride along with Easton on the graveyard shift when he pulled over in a dark rural area.

She told authorities Easton, "Was attempting to touch (her) breast and crotch area on top of her clothes while he was kissing her."

The woman then accuses him of forcing oral sex.

She did not report the incident at the time which is believed to have happened in 2008. She failed out of the police academy a short time later, according to the search warrant affidavit.

The allegations came to light in 2016 when she was an inmate in the Sacramento County Jail and revealed the incident to a counselor.

Search warrants were then served at the Yuba College Police Academy.

Easton was appointed Marysville's police chief in 2014 and has received numerous awards over the course of his career.

His attorney, Adam Gasner, released this statement:

"Chief Easton denies these unfounded allegations, which have been made by a person who is simply not believable. The accuser is making claims about something she says happened 10 years ago while she was in the police academy. When she failed out of that academy she had every opportunity to make a complaint. Now, 10 years later, she comes up with this outlandish story while she was sitting in a Sacramento County jail for committing serious crimes. Her personal history, background and criminal record demonstrate she cannot be believed.

Chief Aaron Easton has an unblemished record of service as a highly decorated law enforcement officer. He respects the investigation process and knows even untruthful allegations need to be investigated. He hopes the community will reserve judgment until all the facts are out."

The city manager also released this statement naming a new police chief:

The City of Marysville today announced the separation of Police Chief Aaron W. Easton from the Marysville Police Department. In discussions with the City Manager, the Chief expressed his belief that the well-being and continued credibility of the department was best served by separating himself, and the personal issues facing him at the moment, from the City.

In making the announcement, City Manager Walter Munchheimer acknowledged that an ongoing investigation into a decade-old incident allegedly involving Mr. Easton would not be allowed to be a distraction for the important work of the department and the men and women who serve and protect the community. "While this is an allegation only at this time, it is deeply troubling on a personal level," the City Manager stated in a written statement.

The statement continued: "The Marysville Police Department is a professional law enforcement organization with fine men and women dedicated to the safety and security of our city. The department is in no way implicated in either the allegations or the investigation into former chief Easton's personal conduct. I cannot permit those personal difficulties to become a distraction from the department's vital work, and I cannot have a part-time police chief. Mr. Easton needs to devote his full time and energies to resolving these personal matters facing him and his family."

Effective immediately, Police Lieutenant Christian Sachs, a 17-year veteran of the department, will take over the top leadership post in the department as interim Police Chief.

The investigation has prompted questions into the death of Easton's wife.

She died two years of a gunshot wound, but the Sutter County Coroner didn't rule on how it happened and referred the case to the State Department of Justice, which he said is standard protocol.

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