- Associated Press - Saturday, March 18, 2017

SUTTON, W.Va. (AP) - A West Virginia county prosecutor has resigned and agreed to give up her law license for three years over her handling of sexual abuse allegations made against her father-in-law.

Kelly Hamon McLaughlin, the Braxton prosecuting attorney since 2009, appeared Thursday in Charleston before a disciplinary panel.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports (bit.ly/2mHcJHW) the ethics charges say an 11-year-old girl in 2013 accused an elderly neighbor of trying to inappropriately touch her while she was swimming in his pool. During the interview, the girl said that the alleged perpetrator’s name was “Valgene.”

It was reported to the Braxton sheriff’s office in 2013.

Members of the Tri-County Children’s Advocacy Center, including forensic interviewer Sarah Gregory, met the next day and talked with the alleged victim. Then-Braxton deputy D.A. Propst also was also at the meeting.

Gregory’s notes from the meeting indicate the case “needs new prosecutor,” The state Lawyer Office of Disciplinary Counsel wrote in its charging document.

At a meeting on the case in 2013 with McLaughlin, it was noted that a special prosecutor needed to be assigned the case, but McLaughlin never disclosed “the reason her office was unable to handle the case,” according to the charging document.

In February 2014, the State Police determined after an investigation that Propst had broken into the Braxton sheriff’s office. McLaughlin allowed him to resign instead of facing prosecution, the filing states.

At another meeting about the allegations in April 2014, McLaughlin advised that “the case should be closed and removed from the meeting agenda,” the filing states.

After being asked about the case in 2016 by an assistant prosecutor, McLaughlin replied the case had been investigated and handed to Webster County, though no one in Webster County had been told about the case.

McLaughin’s father-in-law, Valgene McLaughin, has not been charged in the matter.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, https://wvgazettemail.com.


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