The police chief of a small southeast North Dakota town has been charged with multiple counts of sexual abuse charges in multiple southwest North Dakota counties.
Forum News Service reported that LaMoure Police Chief James G. Watson, 51, was arrested while testifying in a DUI case at the LaMoure County Courthouse Thursday, June 29, and was subsequently booked into the Stutsman County Jail.
Watson was arrested on two Class AA felonies of gross sexual imposition and one Class A felony of gross sexual imposition in Hettinger County, and was arrested on one count each of Class AA felony continuous sexual abuse of a child in Stark and Golden Valley counties. The maximum penalty for a Class AA felony is life in prison.
According to a complaint filed in Stark County, the offence occurred from the fall of 2011 through April 2013 and that during that time Watson “willfully engaged in any combination of three or more sexual acts or sexual contacts with a minor who was under the age of 15 during a time period of three or more months.”
These acts were allegedly happening on at least a weekly basis from the fall of 2011 through April 2013 in Stark County. The complaint for the case in Golden Valley County explains a similar scenario that occurred from the fall of 2011 through December of 2011 in Golden Valley County.
Court documents and complaints for the case in Hettinger County were not immediately available.
LaMoure is about 55 miles southeast of Jamestown.
Watson, LaMoure’s only officer, has been placed on paid administrative leave, according to the city attorney. The LaMoure County Sheriff's Department will be responding to 911 calls in the small southeast North Dakota town.
Court records show that Watson is to make his initial appearance for all three cases in Southwest District Court on Monday, July 3 at 1:30 p.m. No attorney is currently listed for Watson.
Forum News Service reporter Kim Hyatt contributed to this story.