SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Bullitt County police detective at the center of an alleged cover-up made his first court appearance Monday.
Hillview Police Detective John Nissen pleaded not guilty to theft, witness tampering and official misconduct charges.
In a WDRB investigation that unveiled documents, body camera video and hours of interviews, Kentucky State Police said Nissen is accused of helping to cover up an alleged rape.
Brian Butler, Nissen's Defense Attorney says, "It's easy to make an allegation, but it's oftentimes difficult to prove that allegation and that's what courts are for and that's why we entered a plea of not guilty today"
The woman claimed Pioneer Village Police Chief D.J. Reynolds raped her while she was staying at his home last year. While Reynolds has not been charged with a crime, KSP confirms there is an open investigation involving him. Reynolds posted an open letter to "residents" on the Pioneer Village Facebook page over the weekend. The letter said the claim stems from the result of a break-up with his accuser.
KSP is investigating whether Detective Nissen tipped off Reynolds about the rape complaint. They're also looking into whether Nissen arranged for the accuser to leave the area to avoid talking to police. Nissen told investigators he told the woman to leave the area because she felt unsafe.
Tony Thompson is a former Pioneer Village Councilman and was appointed to the county's planning commission. He says, "We should not dismiss her side of the story. We have to take any accusation like that very seriously. Basically, we wait til the investigation is over." Thompson says people should not rush to judgment.
He says, "If he's guilty, nail him to wall. I just feel the D.J. I know, it would totally surprise me if these allegations are true." Reynolds remains on the job. The Pioneer Village Mayor has not returned WDRB's repeated calls for comment.
Police are investigating whether Nissen arranged for the accuser to leave the area to avoid talking to police. Documents state after police interviewed the woman about the rape allegations, Nissen took her back to Reynolds' home, then to a hotel and had oral sex while he was on the job.
Hillview Police immediately suspended Nissen's police powers, after the indictment. The judge released him on his own recognizance, and he's on desk duty.
Nissen's attorney says Nissen and Reynolds have not discussed the case with each other.
Butler says, "He has not had any contact and that was on purpose. Obviously to protect both men, the judge, of course, ordered no contact, and we will abide by that. And I'm sure the chief will, as well."
The Hillview Police Chief says his department is conducting an internal investigation into Nissen. That's expected to last 3 to 4 weeks. The Hillview Chief says he's also waiting for discovery in the case that WDRB has already obtained.
Nissen is expected back in court in August.
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