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Appeals court ruling: St. Louis prosecutors missed deadline to charge officer with witness tampering

Missouri Court of Appeals has upheld earlier ruling against St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner's Office

ST. LOUIS — The Missouri Court of Appeals has ruled against the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office in a case involving an alleged sexual assault of a St. Louis police officer by one of her fellow officers.

In March 2021, St. Louis Circuit Judge Lynne Perkins determined St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office charged St. Louis Police 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.

Credit: St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department
Sgt. Jatonya Muldrow-Clayborn

Gardner’s office appealed Perkins’ ruling to the Missouri Court of Appeals, which issued a ruling against her Tuesday siding with Perkins’ determination that prosecutors missed the statute of limitations.

5 On Your Side has asked Gardner’s office for comment and is waiting to hear back.

“The State failed to provide a record of the oral argument proceedings on the motion to dismiss,” according to the ruling. “Without meaningful transcript preserving this issue, there is nothing for us to decide.”

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

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 three charges related to several assaults dating to 2010. Officer Torey Phelps has been charged with one assault dating to 2010. Prosecutors say the men worked together to drug and abuse their victims.

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