Arrest of chief deputy continues to ripple across Saline County - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Arrest of chief deputy continues to ripple across Saline County

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By Julia Bruck - bioemail

HARRISBURG, IL (KFVS) - The arrest of a community leader in Harrisburg continues have implications across the county.

Illinois State Police arrested 43-year-old Todd Fort early Tuesday morning. Fort is the chief deputy of Saline County, president of the Harrisburg school board and one of two deputy coroners in Saline County.

Saline County Coroner Randy Reed says he is shocked by Fort's arrest.

"We continue to work toward keeping the department functioning for the citizens of Saline County," said Saline County Sheriff Keith Brown. "I'm working toward reorganizing the administration of the office."

Brown deferred everything about the investigation of Fort to the Illinois State Police and the Saline County State's Attorney.

In the charges, state's attorney Michael Henshaw alleges, Fort had sexual relations with a female older than 13 and under the age of 18 from May 1, 2010 until Monday.      

Illinois State Police Lieutenant Stan Diggs says they've been working this case for most of the past month.  He says Monday investigators gained enough evidence to get a warrant for Fort's arrest.  

While Fort's charges are tied to his alleged actions as chief deputy, the arrest is having an impact on the Harrisburg school district. Fort is the president of the school board. Superintendent Dennis Smith says Fort's arrest is like a slap in the face.

"I want the community to know rather than being on the other side of this issue from them, we're actually in it with them," Smith said.  "We're hurting with them and kinda shocked and disappointed and we're working through our process too, as we try to get to the end of this."

Smith says Fort is still a member of the school board. He adds the board has no legal standing to change Fort's board status.

Meanwhile, Henshaw says he plans to prosecute the case.

Fort is charged with four counts of criminal sexual assault and four counts of official misconduct. He is expected in court Friday.

Fort was taken to the Jackson County jail on a $250,000 bond.

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