SUTTON, W.Va. — Braxton County’s prosecutor abruptly resigned this week amid allegations of misconduct. The decision to step down by Kelly Hamon McLaughlin came as a shock to the county commission earlier this week.
“We knew nothing,” said Braxton County Commission President Ronald Facemire. “We were told nothing.”
The commission received McLaughlin’s letter of resignation Wednesday effective immediately and in an emergency meeting named Assistant Prosecutor William McCourt the acting prosecutor for 30 days.
McLaughlin faced charges of misconduct and conflict of interest which were filed last October by the state Office of Disciplinary Council. According to court documents the incident started in 2013 when an elderly relative of McLaughlin was accused of the sexual abuse his neighbor, an 11-year old girl. Although the incident was reported to the Braxton County Sheriff’s Department, the matter was never brought to court.
Despite her relation to the accused, McLaughlin did not recuse herself nor did she request a special prosecutor for the case. However, those documents further claimed she told investigators a special prosecutor had been assigned. Eventually the charges against the elderly family member were dismissed.
The incident was also tied to the resignation of a Braxton County deputy who was accused several months later of breaking into the Braxton County Sheriff’s Department in February 2014. The documents revealed McLaughlin allowed the deputy to resign his position in lieu of prosecution.
During a hearing before the Disciplinary Council on Thursday, McLaughlin admitted to all of the original allegations with the exception of one which accused her of dishonesty.
The panel reached an agreement with McLaughlin. The agreement stipulated she immediately resign, not run for prosecutor again, and not practice law for the next three years.
“The point of the counsel is to protect the public” said Rachael Fletcher Cipoletti, Chief Lawyer Disciplinary Counsel, “Her immediate resignation is big step in protecting the public.”
The agreement and recommendation has been submitted to the West Virginia Supreme Court which will be the final arbiter on whether that agreement is accepted.