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Judge dismisses charges against St. Louis officer, says prosecutors missed statute of limitations

Dismissal is latest in losses for St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner's Office

ST. LOUIS — A judge dismissed a criminal charge against one of the St. Louis police officers involved in allegations of sexual assault.

Circuit Judge Lynne Perkins determined St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office charged Sgt. Jatonya Clayborn-Muldrow with witness tampering one day after the statute of limitations on that charge expired.

Clayborn-Muldrow was accused of trying to dissuade another officer’s sexual assault victim from reporting the alleged assault. But for her to be charged with witness tampering, prosecutors must first file a sexual misconduct charge against the officer accused of the assault – something that Perkins determined had not been done.

RELATED: St. Louis police sergeant accused of tampering with fellow officer in sexual assault case

Perkins dismissed the charge with prejudice, which means prosecutors cannot refile it.

A spokeswoman for Gardner’s office responded to a request for comment Monday, which read: "The Circuit Attorney's Office respectfully disagrees with the court’s dismissal in this case. We are evaluating all of our options in this matter, including but not limited to, appealing the Court’s decision."

Clayborn-Muldrow’s attorney, Peter Bruntrager, sent a statement to 5 On Your Side following the judge’s ruling.

“We stand by the fact that Jatonya did not commit any crime so we are obviously thrilled with the level of attention the judge gave our motion and the ultimate outcome. The statute of limitations issue was immediately apparent to us when the case was filed. After the prosecutors declined to charge the underlying crime within its statute of limitations and did not present it to the grand jury, we strongly believed the Circuit Attorney’s Office improperly brought charges against Jatonya,” he wrote.

Bruntrager also argued in his motion to dismiss the charges that Gardner’s office has a conflict of interest in the case because his client led an investigation into alleged misconduct on Gardner’s part in an unrelated case involving misconduct on the part of one of her investigators in the former Gov. Eric Greitens case.

RELATED: Prosecutor missed deadline in charging St. Louis police sergeant in sex assault case, attorneys allege

Clayborn-Muldrow, 48, was one of three officers Gardner’s office charged in March in connection to a series of sexual assaults dating to 2009. Clayborn-Muldrow was charged with the misdemeanor, after police said she told an alleged victim the sexual assault was “just a misunderstanding,” and also appeared at Internal Affairs when the victim tried to file a complaint.

Prosecutors said Clayborn-Muldrow was trying to prevent the victim from reporting an alleged assault at the hands of Officer Lafael Lawshea.

Lawshea is facing five charges, three felonies and two misdemeanors related to several assaults dating to 2010. Officer Torey Phelps has been charged with one assault dating to 2009. Prosecutors say the men worked together to drug and abuse their victims.