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Police officer averts sex charge

NEW PORT RICHEY — Authorities looking into a sexual battery accusation against a New Port Richey police officer have decided not to prosecute him.

Officer John Nohejl is a 12-year veteran who was the school resource officer at Gulf Middle School until April 11, when he was put on paid administrative leave while the complaint was investigated.

The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office decided Friday not to file criminal charges. That same day he was returned to the force as a road patrol officer, although the Police Department has launched an internal investigation into the matter.

The allegation had nothing to do with Nohejl's old assignment.

"There was nothing involved with this allegation that has anything to do with any students or former students at Gulf Middle School," Assistant Chief Darryl Garman said.

The sexual battery accusation was made by a female acquaintance in an off-duty incident, authorities said. New Port Richey police said they learned of the allegation from another agency, but would not identify that agency.

Prosecutors and police officials offered scant details Monday of the complaint. Both Nohejl and the woman told the State Attorney's Office there was a sexual encounter. He said it was consensual. She said it wasn't.

The State Attorney's Office said it didn't know whose story to believe.

"There were issues that existed that called into question the version of events," said Chief Assistant State Attorney Bruce Bartlett. "Which version was the accurate version? Generally when we have a situation like that, it's difficult to determine."

Nohejl last made headlines in January when the school resource officer's attempts at online social networking instead sparked an investigation by a state cyber crimes unit.

The officer started a MySpace page to connect with the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders on his own beat. But then his site was linked to another site titled "Amateur Match Free Sex."

Nohejl was cleared of any wrongdoing in February. His defenders said Nohejl was only trying to give students a way to connect with him online. And his MySpace page had been approved by the police chief and the school's principal.

New Port Richey police officials ordered Nohejl not to comment Monday on the latest allegation because of the pending internal investigation.

"He's not allowed to talk to anybody and I made that abundantly clear to him," Garman said.

Chief Martin Rickus will make a final ruling when the investigation is complete.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Police officer averts sex charge 07/07/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 9, 2008 4:53pm]
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