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Case vs. police lieutenant dismissed

Special prosecutor says he expects to file charges against Springfield officer again.

A criminal domestic violence and assault case against a Springfield police lieutenant has been dismissed but will likely be refiled later, a special prosecutor said Thursday.

Lt. Noel Lopez, 49, was arrested March 15 for alleged incidents that occurred March 14 and Feb. 24 involving a woman in his home in Moorefield Twp. Due to Lopez’s role in the police department, the case was being handled by a special prosecutor, Andrew Sexton, who is an assistant prosecutor in the city of Dayton.

A trial was slated to begin Wednesday but was dismissed without prejudice by Sexton in Clark County Municipal Court, according to court records.

Because of extenuating circumstances and caseloads in Dayton, Sexton said he filed a motion for a continuance for the trial, which he said was approved by Lopez’s defense attorney. However, that motion was denied by Judge Thomas Trempe, which Sexton said forced him to dismiss the case for now.

“What we did, it was actually to save the case. We will continue with the investigation with an eye on refiling the case in the near future,” he said Thursday.

Police Chief Stephen Moody said Lopez will remain assigned to paid administrative duties while the department completes its own investigation. He was first reassigned March 15 when Moody said he learned of the arrest.

“We are going to review administrative policy and procedure during this ordeal. On- or off-duty, it’s incumbent on us to know we are held to a higher standard here, and we take that very seriously” he said.

Moody said that he generally allows the criminal case to “run its course” before initiating an internal investigation, but added that the department still needed to look at its code of conduct in connection with this case.

Lopez did not return a call seeking comment Thursday.

The woman filed a complaint with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office stating Lopez had become “more aggressive verbally and physically towards her” since February, leaving visible bruises on her right leg following one altercation, according to the incident report. The woman also alleged Lopez had become violent during an incident in March, which also left bruises on the top of her left wrist, according to reports.

Lopez voluntarily came to the sheriff’s office to speak with deputies after the allegations were made, and he denied having a domestic dispute with the woman or engaging in any physical altercation, the sheriff’s office reported. He was arrested by deputies March 15 and booked into the Tri-County Jail in Champaign County, where he posted the $1,000 bond he was issued, according to court records.

This case marked the second time Lopez has been accused of domestic violence while working for Springfield police. In March 2002 he was found not guilty on two counts of domestic violence after his accuser, in trial testimony, said she lied about alleged abuse. After repeated questioning by the prosecutor, she said Lopez accidentally hit her in the neck with his elbow during an incident Dec. 1, 2001.

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