LaFAYETTE, Ala. (AP) – Etowah County’s chief administrator is charged with child sexual abuse in east Alabama.
Chambers County Sheriff Sid Lockhart says James Patrick Simms is charged with one count of sexual abuse of a child younger than 12.
Lockhart says Simms works as the administrative officer for Etowah County but also lives in Chambers County.
The sheriff says the charge isn’t linked to Simms’ job, but officers were aware of his position during an investigation.
A defense attorney calls the charges “atrocious” and says Simms is the victim of a witch hunt.
Etowah commissioners voted to place Simms on paid leave last week but wouldn’t say why. Lockhart says his office informed Etowah officials of the investigation before Simms surrendered on Thursday.
Simms has been the county’s administrator for about eight years.
(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)