Suspect accused in mentally disabled woman's assault was once police chief

Robert Lanier New. (Photo: WSB-TV)

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Robert Lanier New. (Photo: WSB-TV)

Roughly 20 years before Robert Lanier New became embroiled in assault allegations tied to a mentally disabled woman and her niece, he served as the police chief in Emerson.

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City officials confirmed to WSB-TV that New had two stints with Emerson police. New first served with the department from September 1998 to February 1999, when he left to work for Acworth police, where he remained until November 2000, when he came back to Emerson police.

He was promoted to police chief three weeks after his return.

New resigned in 2004 to work as a government contractor, officials told WSB-TV. Shortly after, New joined the Cobb County Police Department in February 2005.

But as quickly as New climbed up the ranks, his professional life started to fray.

Cobb County Police Chief Mike Register hinted New’s future with the department could be decided early next week, according to WSB-TV. New has been on administrative leave without pay since allegations surfaced earlier this week that he assaulted a 44-year-old woman who has the mental capacity of a 10- to 14-year-old in his home. He was off duty at the time of the alleged abuse.

According to an arrest warrant obtained Tuesday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, New choked the woman and slapped both sides of her face during sex to the point that she cried. The woman told officers that with New's hands around her throat, she wasn't able to tell him to stop, the warrant alleges.

The incident happened sometime between March 1 and March 31 at his home in Kennesaw, according to police. New was off duty at the time.

During her interview, the woman was reportedly “shaking due to fear,” police said.

The victim’s allegations were corroborated through text messages on her phone, according to the warrant.

“The accused made the statements through text messages, ‘I am in charge, I am in control,’” police said. The threatening messages allegedly continued even after the victim attempted to distance herself from New, as recently as March 31, police said.

No decision has been made on whether the department will fire New.

“The recommendation is in the county attorney’s office for their review,” Register said. “That will be disclosed when we’re in agreement with the county attorney’s office.”

New charges were filed against the 46-year-old Thursday alleging he attempted to solicit the woman and her 12-year-old niece for sex. Police believe New was using the woman to try to get to her niece, Cobb police Officer Sarah O'Hara told The AJC. New met the woman online, but police are still investigating which website the two used.

New remains in the Cobb County jail without bond on charges of aggravated assault-strangulation, simple battery, criminal solicitation and computer pornography.

New is also being investigated for an administrative complaint filed with the department. Register said that complaint was not criminal, but involves another woman.

“We are investigating if he adhered to departmental policies,” Register said.

The complaint was filed weeks before the first allegations emerged against New.

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