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Chief: Massena department investigating woman’s claims of sex assault by police

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MASSENA — Village police are conducting an internal investigation of claims by a 27-year-old Potsdam woman, charged with a series of alcohol-related offenses, that she was physically and sexually assaulted by members of the village police department while in police custody Friday.

“We’re conducting an internal investigation,” village Police Chief Timmy J. Currier said. “It’s a personnel matter right now, so I’m not able to comment until the investigation is complete.”

The incident allegedly began shortly after 1 a.m. Friday when police were called to the Harte Haven Plaza to respond to reports of a woman slumped over the steering wheel of a vehicle in the parking lot.

The woman, Heather M. Kirby, of 92 State Route 345, Potsdam, was charged with one count of driving while intoxicated, one count of obstruction of governmental administration, one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, and one count of consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle.

According to court documents, the woman, who refused to take a Breathalyzer test, became belligerent while being transported to the police station. She also refused to answer questions on whether she understood her Miranda rights and DWI arrest warnings.

Police said that inside the vehicle, whose engine was running when they arrived, they found two empty beer cans, as well as a smoking device and a baggie, which both allegedly contained marijuana.

Police say that while she was in custody, the woman slammed a department-owned phone against the wall and refused to comply with orders from officers. Police said she also had to be restrained to be moved to the cell where she was held overnight.

The woman alleged that an officer put his hand down her pants while she was being arrested. She also said she suffered from injuries to her back and tailbone and bruises to her arms.

“I have bruises all down my arms from them manhandling me last night,” she said.

Officials from Citizens Against Violent Acts and the New York State Police spoke with the woman Friday morning, and she further alleged that village police rejected the state police recommendation that the CAVA representative be allowed to stay with her while she was in custody.

After being released from MMH Friday evening, she was arraigned by acting Village Court Judge James M. Crandall and released to probation supervision.

Mr. Currier said he hopes to see the results of the department’s investigation later this week.“Hopefully, it will be ready within a couple days,” he said.

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