Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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January 24, 2013

UPDATE: Elkhart County Commissioner Terry Rodino won’t face criminal charges for alleged sexual assault

GOSHEN — Elkhart County Commissioner Terry Rodino will not face charges after an allegation of sexual assault, a special prosecutor announced Wednesday.

In November 2012, the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office received a case against Rodino from the Elkhart Police Department, which investigated the incident that allegedly occurred Oct. 29. Because Rodino is a local elected official, Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill requested an outside review of the case, and Allen County Prosecutor Karen E. Richards agreed to serve as special prosecutor in the investigation.

“The report indicated that a female alleged a sexual assault by Mr. Rodino,” according to a news release issued by the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office. “This office reviewed the investigation and determined that the alleged victim admitted to prior sexual contact with Mr. Rodino. Mr. Rodino also acknowledged some contact of a sexual nature.

“However, this conduct has no connection to his duties as county commissioner,” the statement continued. “Based on the totality of the circumstances, we do not believe we can prove sexual assault beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, prosecution of this case is declined.”

Goshen attorney Phil Miller represented Rodino during the investigation and said Rodino cooperated with police and the special prosecutor as much as he could within the legal advice he received.

“He believed the charges weren’t warranted,” Miller said of Rodino, adding, “We were confident that Terry had not violated any criminal law or anything like that.”

Miller said he was never able to read the specific allegations in the police report, but said he had information from Rodino and witnesses to prove, “There wasn’t sufficient evidence at all to support what (the complainant) was alleging.”

Miller said he did not want to delve into Rodino’ personal life, but did say the allegation had nothing to do with the married commissioner’s official duties.

“Terry is a very hard worker,” Miller said of Rodino’s commissioner responsibilities. “He has always taken that responsibility very seriously.”

Miller also said there may still be civil matters involved in the incident, so he did not want to reveal any details of the complaint.

In a statement issued to local media outlets after the decision, Miller said, “The decision by the Allen County prosecuting attorney, who declined the prosecution of my client, Terry Rodino, should bring all of us a renewed faith in our legal system. While the allegations made were serious, they were just that — allegations.”

Miller added, “Mr. Rodino and his family have been put through a great deal the past few months and are thankful for the support and efforts of all involved to finally bring closure to the investigation.”

Rodino owns Duro in Elkhart. That business recycles and constructs wooden pallets for shipping. He is also involved in a lengthy lawsuit with his business partners, Tim Dugle and Amit Shah, who hold minority shares in Duro. The two partners have filed a lawsuit over how the company is run. That case is pending in a LaGrange County court.

Spencer Walton, an attorney representing Rodino in that civil lawsuit, was happy to hear that no criminal charges would be filed against Rodino. Walton indicated he was happy the special prosecutor’s investigation took place and that there wasn’t a “rush to judgment.”

“We’re pleased that the process was carried out appropriately,” he said, “and the decision was made not to prosecute.”

Phone messages left by The Goshen News with Rodino seeking comment were not returned Wednesday.

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