LAUREL – The Laurel city chief administrative officer said the alleged sexual misconduct surrounding a Laurel school resource officer happened a year and a half ago when the officer was off duty.
Matthew Lurker is heading up the investigation into the Laurel school resource officer who has been accused of sexual misconduct with a 16-year-old.
Lurker told MTN News Monday that while Laurel police have two officers dedicated to an internal investigation, he will also be ordering another agency to do an investigation into the matter.
Lurker said in this matter, he will be following policy and procedure according to the city’s guidelines.
He is not releasing the officer’s name age or if the 16-year-old is a student of the Laurel School District.
Laurel Police Chief Rick Musson confirmed early Monday to MTN News that the officer has been placed on paid administrative leave.
The complaint has not been forwarded to the Yellowstone County Attorney’s office for review.
Last Friday, Yellowstone County Deputy Attorney Chris Morris told MTN News the legal age for consent in the state of Montana is 16 years old. Morris said if the teenager involved in the alleged misconduct was a willing participant of the relationship, it is possible criminal charges won’t be filed following an investigation.
However because the officer is in a position of authority, leaders within the school district took action and removed the officer from school grounds late last week.
“I requested the Laurel Police Department suspend one of the District’s school resource officers from duty at school buildings pending the Department’s investigation,” said Superintendent Linda Filpula in a statement issued Monday.
Filpula said it was an inquiry from Q2 News that alerted her of the issue and ordered the suspension of the officer from school grounds pending an investigation.
“Once that investigation is complete, the district intends to work with the police department regarding any further action that must be taken to preserve student and staff safety,” Filpula also said in her statement.
Filpula said two school resource officers currently staff Laurel schools. She said there is now an alternative plan in place to cover security of the schools while the investigation into the officer in question is being conducted.
Reporting by Andrea Lutz for MTN News