Published 1:09 p.m. UTC Sep 6, 2018
NEWARK, Ohio – Charges are not being filed against a Newark police officer who had a sexual encounter with a teenager.
Michael Shawn Henery, who served as the school resource officer at Newark High School, had sex with a 17-year-old girl May 25, the night before Newark's graduation.
Henery has been on paid leave since July 25 and an internal investigation into the incident is in progress.
Newark Police Chief Barry Connell said the collective bargaining agreement states that a criminal investigation must be completed before the internal investigation can start.
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Henery's personnel file, which was obtained by The Advocate through a records request, included positive reviews from his 20 years with the department and no prior disciplinary action.
Henery could not be reached as of 4 p.m. EDT Wednesday.
In an email to Connell, Assistant Licking County Prosecutor Paula Sawyers said the prosecutor's office is not pursuing charges in the case because the statute prohibiting a police officer from having relations with a minor has been ruled unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court.
"That leaves the possibility of a criminal offense only in cases where the peace officer has some sort of custodial care of the victim. That is not present in this case," Sawyers writes. "As the victim was 17 years old, she had the ability to consent under the law. There was no criminal offense."
Connell said at the time Henery was placed on administrative leave he was training for a promotion as supervisor within the department. If Henery were prompted, Connell said he would no longer serve as a school resource officer.
Whether Henery can return as a school resource officer has not determined because the internal investigation is not completed, Connell said.
"Those are all things that will be looked at," he said.
According to records released by the Newark Police Department, Henery and the 17-year-old, who The Advocate is choosing not to identify, met while Henery was working as a school resource officer at Newark High School.
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Newark City Schools contracts with Newark Police to provide a school resource officer and it's up to the police department to select someone for that position. Henery was placed at the high school in the middle of the 2017-18 school year after the previous officer retired, Newark Schools spokesman Seth Roy said.
Roy said the district has not heard of any other students having relations or contact with Henery outside of school.
The two never exchanged phone numbers or talked after school hours, according to NPD records.
The girl had given Henery an explicit letter once prior to the May encounter. Henery never gave the letter to school officials or his superiors at the police department, according to records.
The report states Henery spoke to Newark High School Assistant Principal Jessica Corum about the letter. But he shredded it and Corum never saw it.
The girl had told Henery she was 18 years old during the school year, according to the report, but Henery never took steps to confirm that.
On May 25, the girl attended graduation practice at White Field and approached Henery, telling him the two of them should hangout. Henery told the girl he would be working all night at the football field to ensure nothing happened to the chairs prior to the ceremony the next day, according to the report.
Later that evening, the girl returned to White Field. Henery allowed her in the locked gate after she said she had lost her phone during rehearsal.
The 17-year-old initiated the encounter and the two had sexual intercourse behind a set of bleachers.
Henery had not seen the 17-year-old since the incident.
According to the report, a former Newark Police officer contacted the department on July 19 to report the encounter.