A Ripley City Police Department officer has been indicted for allegedly sexually abusing a minor girl.  The Ripley City Council, acting on the recommendation of Chief Jim Fridley, voted unanimously tonight to dismiss Denver "Buddy" Thomas from the police force effective immediately as a result of the indictment. 

(Updated 9:30 p.m.)

A Ripley City Police Officer has been indicted for allegedly sexually abusing a minor girl.

Denver H. "Buddy" Thomas was indicted Tuesday by the Grand Jury on the felony charge of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, custodian or person in a position of trust for allegedly engaging in sexual contact with an underage female during late 2008.

The indictment alleges that Thomas attempted to and engaged in sexual contact by using his hand to grope the genitals of the female victim. 

According to WV State Code, the penalty for sexual abuse by a person in a position of trust is 10 to 20 years imprisonment in a state penitentiary and up to a $5,000 fine. 

The indictment was presented by special prosecutor Fred J. Giggenbach, Jr., from the Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney's Office and based upon the testimony of Sgt. Kenneth G. McCord of the West Virginia State Police.

Thomas will appear Thursday morning before Judge Thomas C. Evans, III, for formal answer of indictment and scheduling of an arraignment hearing in Circuit Court.

The Ripley City Council had already scheduled a special meeting Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. to discuss changing the city's election cycle. During tonight's meeting, Police Chief Raymond "Jim" Fridley recommended that the council dismiss Thomas from the police force effective immediately.  Council voted unanimously in favor of Chief Fridley's recommendation. 

Thomas was originally placed on administrative leave with pay during a special session of the city council on September 17, 2009, pending the outcome of a WVSP investigation.

A Freedom of Information request by Jackson Newspapers for a copy a letter regarding Thomas submitted by Chief of Police Raymond “Jim” Fridley during an executive session at the September 17 meeting, which led to Thomas subsequently being placed on leave in regular session once the executive session adjourned, was denied by Mayor Carolyn Rader on the advice of city attorney Kevin Harris.  

Further details of Wednesday night’s meeting will be available Thursday at www.jacksonnewspapers.com.