HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- About 20 cases involving sex offenders were thrown out this month and potentially hundreds more have been compromised due to the recent arrest of an investigator with the Madison County Sheriff's Department.
The Madison County District Attorney's office confirmed with WHNT News 19 and our news partners at The Huntsville Times/al.com Friday that the indictment of Shawn McClure, whose job was to check on all registered sex offenders in Madison County, leaves up in the air hundreds of cases involving registration violations.
McClure, a former deputy, was indicted on charges of second-degree receiving stolen property and second-degree theft.
“It is our responsibility to address criminal activity wherever it occurs,” Sheriff Blake Dorning told WHNT News 19. “It doesn’t matter where it occurs. Nobody is above the law.”
On November 5th, Investigator McClure ended his 12-year career at the Madison County Sheriff’s Office. He handed in his resignation as an internal investigation probed into whether he had participated in any wrongdoing.
Assistant District Attorney Tim Gann says about 20 cases involving Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) violations were no-billed by the grand jury due to McClure's indictment and arrest on second-degree theft charges.
Gann said McClure's arrest throws into doubt potentially hundreds of cases that are still pending, where McClure is the key witness.
"It relates directly to the indictment of Shawn McClure. He was the SORNA investigator for the Madison County Sheriff's office," Gann said. "All those cases he investigated, obviously we cannot call him as a witness, they are to be no-billed."
"We have made arrangements with the sheriff's department and their current investigator is going to reopen all those cases and take a hard look and see if we can salvage them," Gann said. "Hopefully we'll be able to."
Gann said the theft charges against McClure could compromise the SORNA cases because of the nature of the alleged offenses.
"Theft charges go to credibility," Gann said. "It goes to somebody's truthfulness, their credibility as a witness. What will we do is go case by case. If he is an essential witness, if we can't make the case without him, it will have to be dismissed."
"If we can make the case without him, it's basically a salvage operation, we will," Gann said.
(Huntsville Times reporter Brian Lawson contributed to this report)