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1 Alex City police officer fired, second arrested but back on the job

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ALEXANDER CITY, AL (WSFA) -

A 20+ year career with the Alexander City Police Department ended abruptly, on the wrong side of the courtroom, for Corporal Michael Patrick Ford.

Ford was originally charged with 3 counts of child sex abuse. By the time his case went before a grand jury, fresh evidence had amplified the investigation.

A grand jury returned a 12 count indictment: 5 counts of sex abuse of a child less than 12 years of age, second degree sex abuse, 3 counts of sodomy second, incest, tampering with evidence and theft.

"Cases of this nature typically get pushed to the front burners because they are significantly serious cases," explained Tallapoosa County District Attorney, E. Paul Jones.

The Tallapoosa County Sheriff's Office took the lead on the investigation, as a neutral party. Sheriff Jimmy Abbett describes any crime involving the badge as upsetting, something no officer wants to discover. "It's a sad note. That officer has taken the oath, and has sworn to uphold that oath, then goes against it," the sheriff said.

Ford was terminated promptly after charges were filed, but the story doesn't end there.  Another officer, Lieutenant Randy Walters, was also arrested in connection to the case.

A grand jury indicted Walters on conspiracy for tampering with evidence. Robinson remains on the job, engaged in a pretrial diversion program. Acting Alex City Police Chief Willie Robinson stands behind his decision to keep Walters on the force saying, "I believe he learned his lesson."

Jones now faces a difficult task: preparing children under the age of 12 to testify about something they don't fully understand. "These acts are outside their realm of knowledge and vocabulary, so they have a hard time describing what has taken place. In some cases, they really don't know what's right or wrong, because the person who is doing the abusing is oftentimes the person who's charged with the responsibility of teaching them with what's right and what's wrong."

An investigation is still underway and there's no word if additional charges will be filed.

Ford is expected to stand trial before the end of the year. 

If he is found guilty on the current 12 counts, he could spend the remainder of his life behind bars.

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