Bullitt County police departments at center of rape, cover-up claims

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – After a woman told police in the small Bullitt County city of Hillview in September that she had been raped, a detective took her to the home of the man accused in the sexual assault.

That man was D.J. Reynolds, the chief of police in another small city in the county, Pioneer Village.  

In addition, Hillview Det. John Nissen acknowledged he rented the alleged victim a hotel room that night where he had oral sex with her, while on duty, before later telling her she should leave the area.

These allegations came out in court records this week after Nissen was indicted by a Bullitt County grand jury May 1 on charges of theft, witness tampering and official misconduct.

Reynolds has not been charged and remains on active duty. Documents in the court records indicate Kentucky State Police are investigating Reynolds for the alleged rape, but his attorney, Thomas Clay, said the chief has been cleared.

“Mr. Reynolds denied having any inappropriate contact with this alleged victim and pretty much there was no force, there was nothing else that would be the basis for any criminal conduct,” Clay said.

Reynolds told WDRB News that he is innocent. In an interview with state police in February, Reynolds said he had consensual sex with the woman and that she made up the allegations out of anger when the relationship ended and he refused to give her money.

A state police spokesperson told WDRB that Reynolds is still under investigation, but declined to discuss details of the probe.

On Sept. 21, the woman, whom WDRB is not identifying because she is an alleged sexual assault victim, told Hillview police in a recorded interview that she had been raped repeatedly by Reynolds while living with him, according to a summary of the investigation by the Bullitt Commonwealth's Attorney's office.

After the interview, Nissen then took the woman to Reynolds’ home, “gathered money from her alleged perpetrator,” and took the woman to Wal-Mart to buy a phone, according to the summary.

The documents say Nissen, who knew the woman, then took her to a hotel in Hillview and engaged in a sexual act with her. 

He then tried to persuade the woman to leave the area, prosecutors claim.

Nissen is scheduled to be arraigned on May 14. His police powers have been taken away and he has been reassigned to administrative duties. It is not clear in court records whether he has an attorney.

Kentucky State Police were asked to take over the investigation because the Hillview and Pioneer Village police departments at times work together. 

The state police investigation also mentions another woman who was stopped by Hillview police for alleged shoplifting in January. She initially asked to call a number belonging to Reynolds before being arrested but changed her mind “as he will make her pay it off with ‘sex,’” according to the investigative summary.

Still, it appears from records that Hillview police called Chief Reynolds and he agreed to come to the scene and pay for the item the woman had allegedly stole.

In a later interview with state police, the woman said Reynolds was a good friend and she did not mean to infer he would trade money for sex. She said she didn’t want officers to believe she was trading sex for favors from the chief.

Reynolds told state police the woman had stayed with him before but the two never had sex. And he said he told Hillview police they needed to write up a shoplifting citation against the woman.

“I’m a police officer ok,” Reynolds said, according to an audio recording of his interview with state police. “I do things by the book. I don’t do anything wrong. Ever. I just don’t do that.”

Pioneer Village Mayor Gary Hatcher did not immediately return a phone message left at his city office Thursday afternoon.

The indictment against Nissen claims that in September he allegedly stole property or services from the city of Hillview and the state valued between $500 and $10,000. The charge appears to stem from his activities with the alleged rape victim while he was supposed to be on duty.

He's also accused of trying to affect the testimony of the woman who accused Reynolds of rape. 

Nissen told state police in March that he was told by a higher-ranking officer to take the alleged rape victim somewhere to stay after she came forward to police. At the woman’s insistence, Nissen said, he took her to Reynolds’ home to retrieve some items.

"D.J. was at the house, which I really wasn't comfortable with but she said she wanted her stuff and wanted out," Nissen said, according to an audio of his interview with police. 

Because she had no money, Nissen said both he and Reynolds gave her a combined $100 or so to buy a phone. Nissen denied telling Reynolds about the rape allegation at that time, but said the chief called him about it a few days later and Nissen told him “he needed to get in front of it and contact the KSP,” according to a summary of his interview with state police.

After she bought a phone that night, Nissen said he rented her a hotel room because she had no place to stay. Nissen said the two had oral sex. He was on duty at the time.

In his interview with state police, Nissen said he had had a sexual relationship with the woman in the past but had not seen her in years.

He said he told her to leave the area, but not because he wanted her to avoid cooperating with the police; rather, he said, the woman had told him she felt unsafe.

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