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Mike Nowatzki, Forum News Service, Published December 16 2013

Fired police chief cleared of child abuse allegations; mayor says decision won't be revisited

LINCOLN, N.D. – The fired police chief of this city near Bismarck said Monday he’s keeping his options open after being cleared of child abuse allegations made by his wife in September.

“I’d love my job back,” Marcel Sim said Monday.

Lincoln Mayor Bob Johnston said he doesn’t plan to revisit Sim’s employment, saying the reason for his firing wasn’t the child abuse allegation but rather a domestic violence restraining order a judicial referee approved at the request of Sim’s now-estranged wife in late September.

“That really didn’t factor into that decision anyway. That was a separate issue,” said Johnston, who cast the tiebreaking vote in the council’s 3-2 vote to fire Sim on Oct. 28.

Council members raised concerns about his credibility as a police officer and that the restraining order would have to be disclosed anytime he had to testify in a trial setting.

Sim noted Monday that police weren’t called and there was no record of the alleged 2010 incident that was the basis for the restraining order, which is in effect through 2014. He was put on administrative leave about a month before his firing.

McLean County State’s Attorney Ladd Erickson, who reviewed the child abuse allegations for potential charges, wrote in a Dec. 10 letter to Burleigh County State’s Attorney Richard Riha, “I do not find evidence that criminal conduct was involved with the touching complained of and hereby close this case without filing of any charges.”

Sim said he believes the city acted too hastily in firing him. He said he’s currently not pursuing legal action against the city but is keeping his options open.

“I’m pretty much leaving the door open as far as coming to a positive beneficial conclusion for everybody,” he said.

Sim said he intends to stay in North Dakota and is applying for jobs, adding he has received letters of recommendation from the two council members who voted against his firing. But he also said he has had to sell his house and may move back east to live with his retired father in New York.

Johnston said the city is advertising for a new police chief and hopes to have one in place by the end of February to lead the three-person department.