Commissioner’s family acknowledges allegation, says it’s a misunderstanding related to health crisis

Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper’s family is acknowledging an allegation of inappropriate conduct at a Charleston park, characterizing it as a misunderstanding related to a health crisis.

“Unfortunately, an allegation of inappropriate conduct has been made against my father while he was apparently parked in a vehicle at or near Daniel Boone Park on Monday,” stated Virginia Carper, the commissioner’s youngest daughter.

“My father’s illness and his apparent confusion have been misinterpreted as being something inappropriate. My family and I regret this awful misunderstanding.”

Carper, who has served on the commission more than 20 years, underwent quadruple bypass surgery on Thursday. Virginia Carper said the surgery was prompted by a heart attack on Monday.

Monday is also the day of the incident that local investigators have been looking into.

West Virginia MetroNews and other news organizations have filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the City of Charleston and with Metro 911 for incident reports and recordings of 911 calls from Daniel Boone Park on Monday afternoon.

Each of the FOIA requests has been denied, at least for now, but they resulted in confirmation of an investigation — although they did not specify who is being investigated or any other circumstances.

“The information you are requesting is part of a pending investigation and, therefore, is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act,” responded the City of Charleston.

Metro 911 responded, “we cannot provide you with the requested recordings at this time as there is an ongoing investigation.  As such, Charleston Police Department has requested that the recordings not be released at this time.”

WOWK TV published an online story today citing anonymous sources with the City of Charleston under the headline “Kanawha County Commission President under investigation for alleged lewd activity at city park.”

The WOWK story quoted Ed Hill, Carper’s brother-in-law and law partner. ““Kent would never do anything to embarrass his family, the county or his law partners,” Hill told the television station.

County Commissioner Ben Salango, who was already scheduled as a guest on MetroNews’ “Talkline” then responded to that story when asked about it by host Hoppy Kercheval.

“I know that there is an allegation. I know that the city police will do their job, and they will do the investigation,” Salango said. “As far as the specifics of the allegation or the specifics of the allegation, I have no direct information about it.

“I’ve not been involved with the investigation. I’ve not seen anything in writing regarding the allegations. I’ve heard through the rumor mill similar to others what the allegation is. I can tell you now the only thing I’m concerned about is the health of my friend Kent Carper, and I have no doubt when he is able to address this, he will.”

The Kanawha County Commission collectively put out a statement today with a similar position.

“We are aware of the media reports and the allegations of a pending investigation.  Commission President Kent Carper is recovering from a quadruple bypass surgery, and we feel certain he will address these allegations as soon as he is able,” commissioners stated.

“The Kanawha County Commission will operate as usual.  Meanwhile, we continue to wish him a speedy recovery.”

Virginia Carper said her father started showing signs of illness last weekend. She said the illness progressed and on Tuesday he went to the emergency room at Thomas Memorial Hospital.

There, she said, Carper was diagnosed as having had a heart attack on Monday. His cardiologist performed a heart catheterization at Thomas Memorial, revealing serious blood vessel blockages.

“Yesterday, my father underwent open heart quadruple bypass surgery at CAMC Memorial Hospital. The surgery appears to have been successful. He is still in recovery at this time,” Virginia Carper wrote.

She expressed gratitude toward his the local hospitals for their medical care.

“We request that my father’s privacy be respected while he recovers. We expect a rapid, full recovery which will allow my father to return to the job he loves most — serving the wonderful people of Kanawha County.”

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