Stephen Hatchett, candidate for district attorney in the 10th Judicial District, said Sunday he was not surprised by the firing of child abuse prosecutor Cynthia Lecroy Schemel.
He also said it was untrue that she was fired for supporting his opponent, Steve Crump, in the upcoming election to replace Steve Bebb.
Ms. Schemel, a former assistant public defender in Hamilton County, on Friday filed a complaint against District Attorney Bebb alleging a misdemeanor assault took place on Wednesday.
The Cleveland Police Department filed an offense report and referred the matter to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to investigate the legitimacy of the complaint.
Cleveland Police officials said, "We are treating it as an active investigation and will be unable to release any other information at the time until we receive further recommendation from the
Mr. Hatchett said, "The Chattanooga Times Free Press published a story on Sunday regarding allegations of wrongdoing on the part of Steve Bebb. I have no knowledge of the truth or falsity of the allegations of the assault that supposedly occurred but I have no doubt that a full investigation will occur. Fortunately, forensic science is much more advanced and I am sure that if an assault did occur there will be physical evidence to support the claim. However, Judy Walton’s attempt to tie the story to my campaign for District Attorney General is yet another instance of politics as usual in this district.
"First and foremost, Cindy Schemel’s claim that she was fired for supporting my opponent cannot be taken seriously. It was common knowledge that she was supporting my opponent at least three months before it was reported in the Times Free Press earlier this year. I did not care that she wasn’t supporting me because quite frankly her firing does not surprise me in the least. While I have been out meeting folks in my campaign, I have heard complaints from citizens all over Bradley County about her refusal to prosecute cases, particularly cases involving the sexual abuse of children. Law enforcement officers in Bradley County have been extremely upset with her lack of aggression in prosecuting sexual predators since she took my place as the lead prosecutor on child sex abuse cases which confirms the complaints I have received from the public. My opponent on at least two occasions has given public speeches complaining about the terrible job being done by the Assistant District Attorneys in the 10th Judicial District and I assumed he had heard the same complaints I have and was talking about Mrs. Schemel. Based upon my opponent’s comments, I would have been shocked if he wanted her working for him either.
"I am not aware of any violations of the Little Hatch Act by Steve Bebb. Mrs. Schemel, Assistant District Attorney Mac McCoin, and Assistant District Attorney Brooklynn Townsend are all public and vocal supporters of my opponent and all three, until Ms. Schemel’s firing, are currently employees of the State of Tennessee and subject to the Little Hatch Act. I am unaware of any effort on Ms. Walton’s part to investigate if their activities on behalf of my opponent have violated the Little Hatch Act even though she wrote the article earlier this year talking about them supporting my opponent. Senator Mike Bell is quoted as calling for General Bebb’s resignation based on Mrs. Schemel’s accusations before there has been a formal charge or even a chance for the matter to be submitted to a jury. We have a justice system for a reason and every person has the right to face his or her accusers. General Bebb was just cleared after a two-year-long investigation that wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars and was nothing more than a political witch hunt. That investigation was based on nothing more than anonymous sources, allegations and innuendo.
"The voters in this District have a clear choice: Politics as usual or professional prosecutors. It’s just that simple."