The chairwoman of the governing board in Ferrelview, a village in Missouri, is leading an effort to oust the police chief after he investigated her son for statutory rape, according to The Kansas City Star. The woman, Theresa Wilson, claims there are other reasons to remove the chief, including budgetary concerns and the perception of his heavy-handedness throughout town.

The father of the 14-year-old victim in the rape case did not know Wilson was the mother of the accused man until he saw a flyer that warned of conflict of interest concerning Wilson. The Star writes:

The flyer showed photographs of Theresa Wilson’s son, Jeffrey Gabbard, being booked into jail, with the headline: “Is THIS why the Wilsons REALLY want to get rid of the police in Ferrelview?!?”

The father went to the next City Hall meeting Aug. 8 to speak of his concern and quickly found out just how raw the tensions are in his town over what has been a two-year fight over its police department and its chief.

Theresa Wilson tried calming the father’s fears as he started to speak.

“It’s unrelated,” she began, meaning to somehow explain that her desire to remove the chief has nothing to do with the night of Oct. 25, 2015, when the 14-year-old girl was reported missing. The next day, Chief Clayton found her inside another family’s home, and Gabbard was accused of rape.

Wilson hopes her son is innocent but said she doesn’t know what happened that night. Her son should “face the music” if he is guilty, she said.

Wilson’s efforts have been met with resistance from other board members. Phil Gilliam, a board member who is supporting the chief, said Wilson’s participation in a process to remove Clayton from duty “smacks of conflict of interest. … The way it looks, anyone outside looking in, is they’re railroading the police out of town. The perfect storm that’s spiraled into Ferrelview.”

Some attendees at the board meeting sported “Team Clayton” shirts, and some locals say Clayton has been firm but fair and has helped reduce crime. However, Clayton faces complaints from at least 20 town members and has been under fire for most of the two years he has been police chief. He denies abuse-of-power allegations, claiming that he’s simply doing his job. “When you have to do what you’re supposed to do, nobody likes it,” he told NBC 41 Action News.

The rape victim’s father told the Star that Clayton had gone above and beyond the call of duty the night the 14-year-old went missing:

For some 12 hours, the father said, Clayton went in search of her, visiting homes, looking for particular cars. And when he found her, and the rape accusation was made, Clayton spent another six hours with the family at St. Luke’s North Hospital.

Months would pass, waiting for lab reports, DNA testing. A Platte County grand jury issued an indictment against Gabbard for second-degree statutory rape in August 2016. He was incarcerated for a probation violation on another charge later that fall and is now in the Platte County jail awaiting trial on the rape charge set for Oct. 16.

The town’s dispute with its police chief “is really alarming,” said the girl’s father, who thinks Clayton has been good for Ferrelview.

The board plans to meet again at 6 p.m. Thursday to continue its debate.

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