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Officials ask eastern Idaho sheriff facing charges to resign

December 20, 2021 GMT

BLACKFOOT, Idaho (AP) — An eastern Idaho county prosecutor as well as a city mayor and its police force are calling on the county sheriff to resign.

Bingham County Prosecutor Paul Rogers and Blackfoot Mayor Marc Carroll on Friday called on Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland to step down.

The Idaho attorney general’s office last week charged Rowland with aggravated battery, aggravated assault and misdemeanor exhibition of a gun. State investigators accused him of threatening a church youth group with a gun. The group had dropped a thank-you note off at his front door.

“A trusted Law Enforcement officer has admitted to physically assaulting a neighbor and threatening her with his service handgun,” Carroll wrote in a statement released on Friday calling for Rowland to resign.

Rogers in his statement said that at “some point the damage to the Sheriff’s Office becomes irreparable regardless of the outcome of the newly-filed case.”

Rowland agreed to take a leave of absence shortly after the allegations arose in November, but returned to the job several weeks ago. Rowland has said he has received threats in recent months and worried about people coming to his home. He has not yet entered a plea on the charges.

“I have been doing this job for 36 years,” Rowland said in a statement in which he also disparaged the people on the nearby Shoshone-Bannock Tribes’ Fort Hall Reservation, referencing intoxication and calling them “not good people” and saying their proximity was the reason for his actions.

The tribes have also called on Rowland to resign, calling his statements racist.

“We ask Rowland to officially step down as Sheriff and offer a public apology to the Fort Hall community,” Fort Hall Business Council Chairman Devon Boyer said in the statement last week.

In court documents, investigators with the Idaho Attorney General’s office wrote that a youth group from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was participating in an activity Nov. 9 where they delivered thank-you notes to members of the congregation. The girls, aged 12 to 16, taped the notes to the church-goers’ doors and then rang their doorbells, running away before they could be seen.

Seven of the youth group members and an adult leader went to Rowland’s neighborhood to leave a note for the sheriff and his wife, according to the court documents. In separate interviews with investigators, members of the youth group and Rowland both reportedly said that after the group left the note, Rowland stopped their car from driving away, pulled the adult driver out of the vehicle by her hair and pointed his handgun at her head, yelling profanities at her.