CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Kent Carper, President of the Kanawha County Commission, is under investigation by Charleston police for alleged misconduct at a city park, according to multiple officials in Kanawha County and the city of Charleston.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing nature and sensitivity of the investigation.
Charleston police were dispatched to Daniel Boone Park on Monday afternoon, the officials said, after a woman called 911 to report a man engaged in lewd activity. After an officer arrived at the park, he questioned Carper, though it’s unclear if a citation was issued.
Nexstar’s WOWK has requested a copy of the body cam video from the incident. On Friday morning, Kevin Baker, city attorney, denied the request.
“The information you are requesting is part of a pending investigation and, therefore, is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act,” Baker wrote in his response.
Nexstar’s WOWK has also requested a copy of the incident report and any citations that may have been issued.
Officials said the investigation goes beyond allegations of lewd behavior, including an alleged attempt by Carper to hide the incident.
Meanwhile, Carper, 71, has been hospitalized since Tuesday evening and underwent quadruple bypass surgery on Thursday morning, according to his family.
His daughter, Virginia Carper, said the allegations stemmed from what she called an “awful misunderstanding.”
“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,” Virginia Carper said in a statement. “My father’s illness and his apparent confusion have been misinterpreted as being something inappropriate. My family and l regret this awful misunderstanding.”
Edison Hill, Carper’s law partner and brother-in-law said Carper had not been feeling well all week and on Tuesday his speech had been slurred and his walk had been unsteady.
Hill said he knew no details about the investigation but said he would be shocked if the allegations were true.
“Kent would never do anything to embarrass his family, the county or his law partners,” Hill said.
On Friday afternoon, Kanawha County commissioners Ben Salango and Lance Wheeler issued a joint statement saying the county commission would operate as usual.
“We feel certain (Carper) will address these allegations as soon as he is able,” they wrote.
Carper has been on the Kanawha County Commission since July 1996. He has also served as Charleston’s police chief, public safety director and an assistant prosecuting attorney for Kanawha County.