MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – Through sources and records requests, WHNT News 19 has learned that the arrest of Madison County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Roland Campos for the alleged sexual abuse might not have been as shocking to his employer as originally implied.
In August, we confirmed that police had arrested and charged Campos through sources. His mugshot did not appear on the jail’s public website when he was initially arrested, like anyone else arrested in Madison County. Every step of the way we’ve had to take action and press the issue to learn who knew what and when.
The sheriff’s office held a press conference on August 21st, three days after the arrest, saying they acted quickly. Sheriff’s Spokesperson Lt. Brian Chaffin said the office worked with both Huntsville Police and the National Children’s Advocacy Center.
Of course, this wasn’t the first time the sheriff’s office had handled a child sex abuse complaint.
In fact, we’ve now learned it wasn’t the first time the sheriff’s office had handled a child sex complaint against Campos himself.
After WHNT News 19 had collected the information through three sources, Lt. Chaffin finally confirmed to us last week, months after the arrest, that in 2008, the sheriff`s office requested that Campos be investigated by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). The three sources we spoke with told us the allegations were similar to those he is facing now.
In that earlier investigation, ALEA determined the claims were unfounded and no charges were filed.
We filed an open records request to review the files, but the Madison County Sheriff`s Office and the county attorney said they either don`t have or don`t have to share any records related to a previous investigation.
But they did have to share his personnel file.
We learned that the sheriff’s office even fired Campos once. He`d been a deputy from 1985 to 1993, according to his own job application. No reason was given for the termination. The sheriff`s office said it doesn`t talk about personnel files.
But we now know, the original investigation of Campos took place within a year of his being rehired.
Meanwhile, his personnel file also shows Campos was praised for handling a heavy caseload and he had four years of strong performance reviews. The last review found his work to be outstanding.
But the criminal charge against him alleges four months after that review, he sexually abused a middle school student.
The supervisor who signed three of the last four of those performance reviews? Lt. Brian Chaffin.
Chaffin said at the August news conference, “Any time that you have an employee that is involved in any criminal activity it`s shocking. Not only is it shocking, it`s painful. We had a meeting this morning, you could see it on everybody`s faces. Like, `Man, this is what happened.`”
Campos’ lawyer Richard Jensen declined to comment on the case.
Meanwhile, two recent lawsuits have been filed by a current sheriff`s deputy and a former deputy alleging a culture of sexual harassment and sexual misbehavior by a number of male sheriff`s employees, including the allegation that the sheriff’s office swept an earlier sex abuse incident involving Campos, ‘under the rug.’
None of those allegations have been addressed in court.
But that lawsuit isn’t the only suggestion this was a known quantity, at least in corners of the sheriff’s office.
According to Huntsville Police, the alleged victim in the sex abuse case spoke to Pastor Michael Walker about the incident — a chaplain for the sheriff’s office.
Police arrested Walker in September on a charge of `failure to report` for allegedly failing to bring the allegations to light.
But as Lt. Chaffin said at the time of the Campos arrest, “You know, it`s just like any other profession, you know, nobody`s perfect. Human beings — people — are going to make mistakes.”
“Unfortunately,” he added, “law enforcement gets the brunt of it right now in society.”
The Campos case was sent to a grand jury last week. A Huntsville Police investigator testified that the girl who says Campos touched her private parts is a middle school student.
Correction Note: An earlier version of this story said Campos was indicted. At the time, that was incorrect. His case had only been sent to the grand jury and their finding had not yet been released.