On Personal Facebook Page, Chief Fletcher Critical of Gatlinburg Officer's Testimony

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Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher has weighed in on yesterday's preliminary hearing for three adults charged with not properly reporting the extreme hazing and rape of an Ooltewah High School student.

On his personal Facebook page, Fletcher was critical of the testimony and approach on the witness stand by Gatlinburg Police Detective Rodney Burns.

Burns was the lead investigator for the case when it happened back on December 22nd, at a cabin. A freshman basketball player was sodomized with a pool cue, and had to be hospitalized for 8 days due to a torn bladder. Burns testified on Monday who he interviewed and what he saw when he was first called to the incident. (Watch video of the entire testimony here).

But Burns drew criticism from many people after remarking that he felt the case was "overblown," and saying "This was not sexual in nature, this was something stupid that kids do." He testified that he personally believes the case is one of assault, not rape.

That prompted the post from Chief Fletcher on his personal Facebook page. NewsChannel 9 has permission from the Chattanooga Police Department to share that post, even though Fletcher had the post set to be seen only by his Facebook friends.

Here is what Fletcher said, while sharing a link to this NewsChannel9.com article:

"As a police leader and a former sex crimes detective and as a human being who cares about the respect and dignity of all persons including, especially, victims of violent crime allow me to be abundantly clear about something very important.

The allegations being adjudicated against several young men in our community constitute rape. Not simply hazing, or bullying, or teasing, or horseplay. Rape. A violent crime.

It is ultimately for a jury to decide the outcome of these allegations and that is as it should be.

But the allegations and charges clearly constitute rape. Period. For anyone, including a police officer, to suggest otherwise minimizes the severity of this incident, the experience of the victim and, ultimately, makes life more dangerous for current and future victims.

Tennessee Law is very clear on this matter:

Rape is unlawful sexual penetration of a victim by the defendant or of the defendant by a victim accompanied by any of the following circumstances:

(1) Force or coercion is used to accomplish the act;

(2) The sexual penetration is accomplished without the consent of the victim

(7) "Sexual penetration" means sexual intercourse or any other intrusion, however slight, of any part of a person's body or of any object into the genital or anal openings of the victim..."

NewsChannel 9 asked Chattanooga Police Department Kyle Miller if Chief Fletcher would speak about this matter on camera. Kyle said the chief would not be doing so.

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