Former JCPD officer’s lawyer: Public corruption investigation claims ‘utterly baseless’

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — Statements about a public corruption investigation against the Johnson City Police Department are “utterly baseless,” the attorney for a former police officer involved in a federal lawsuit against Johnson City and several officers claims in a new filing.

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The comment is within a court filing centering around a subpoena that seeks texts, emails and other material from plaintiffs in the civil suit who are alleged victims of now-accused rapist Sean Williams.

News Channel 11 reported last week that plaintiffs’ attorneys want to protect some of their clients from having to respond to the subpoena. In that motion, attorneys referred to “communications with the prosecution for the federal public corruption investigation of the Johnson City Police Department…”

Daniel Rader IV, an attorney for retired Johnson City Police Department (JCPD) Captain Kevin Peters, pushed back on that assertion in his response to the motion over the subpoenas, which were served in February by a private investigator working for Peters.

Rader claimed that “the media picked up on” the reference to an investigation, “and reported this throughout the State of Tennessee as if this gratuitous, unnecessary characterization were breaking news. This is irremediable.”

Peters is among the defendants in the suit, which claims JCPD failed to adequately investigate Williams, the former downtown resident and business owner, despite multiple sexual assault complaints against him. The suit also includes allegations of corruption.

Peters, the other individual defendants and Johnson City deny all the allegations contained in the suit, which is currently scheduled for trial in April 2025.

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Rader’s filing references the suit’s allegations that JCPD “and several of its officers corruptly obstructed the investigation of credible reports of rape” and calls those “horribly defamatory.”

In a footnote, Rader describes the opposing attorneys’ reference to a public corruption investigation as “gratuitously asserting and claiming there to be a ‘prosecution team for the federal public corruption investigation of the Johnson City Police Department.’

“Plaintiff’s counsel’s repeated attempts to cause such a ‘corruption investigation’ by making these apparently baseless accusations to anyone who will listen do not constitute any such thing,” Rader wrote.

Peters, he wrote, “is certainly unaware of any actual ‘corruption investigation’ and highly doubts that there is any such thing, as opposed to presumably ongoing investigations of Sean Williams for the harms allegedly perpetrated against Plaintiffs.”

Most of the nine original plaintiffs in the suit — first filed last June — have become part of one of several “classes” since the suit was amended to a class action. Their lawyers say only the three remaining “class representatives” should be subject to subpoenas, and have filed a motion for requested a “protective order” to bar them from having to respond.

The plaintiffs’ April 18 motion includes the first public mention of a corruption investigation.

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Rader’s response to that motion includes several arguments as to why the plaintiffs should be subject to a subpoena and argues that those plaintiffs were named plaintiffs (using pseudonyms) when a private investigator for Peters served them in February.

Rader argues the subpoena seeks information “indisputably relevant to the case.”

The women “have important information about the alleged scheme by Sean Williams that the lawsuit alleges that the City police had a duty to stop earlier than it did, and these individuals’ communications with Mr. Williams would shed a light on that scheme,” he wrote.

Communications with Williams, with each other and with the police all are sought in the subpoenas, as well as communication with Kat Dahl, who a former U.S. attorney who filed a separate suit against the city. Rader called all these communications “highly relevant” to the case’s claims and his client’s ability to dispute them.

“All this Defendant wants to do is uncover legitimate evidence relevant to the claims against him and his coworkers, whether the evidence supports Plaintiffs or (as is considerably more likely) cuts against their claims,” Rader states in the filing.

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