Lexington police investigate deputy constable accused of kissing, grabbing woman

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Lexington police are investigating a Fayette County deputy constable after a woman alleged he kissed her, smacked her bottom and sent her inappropriate text messages while he was in uniform.

A Fayette County Circuit Court judge issued an emergency protection order against Danny Prater, a deputy constable who works for Constable Wade McNabb, on Oct. 8 after the woman filed a petition with the courts. Prater must remain 500 feet away from the woman’s apartment complex.

McNabb said Prater had been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the case. A hearing on the emergency protection order is scheduled for Monday. Prater was not immediately available for comment.

The Lexington Herald-Leader does not identify victims of sexual harassment or assault.

According to the petition, the woman said Prater was working security at her apartment complex while in his deputy constable uniform. He was also using his constable car. The constables provide security for the complex, the woman said.

Prater approached her outside her home, took her phone and added his number to her phone contacts. As she walked away to talk to a friend, Prater allegedly smacked her bottom and continued to follow her, according to the court record. After she spoke to her friend, Prater continued to follow her and “picked me up and kissed me.”

“I was so scared and didn’t know what to do because he was a constable,” she wrote.

She texted a friend to come to her home to be with her until he left. Before the friend arrived, Prater sat on a chair in front of the woman’s apartment and asked her to sit on “Daddy’s lap,” she wrote in the petition. She told him no multiple times.

When the friend showed up, Prater acted like nothing was going on, the woman alleged. He left. He began sending her text messages and told her to let him know when her friend was gone so he could come back, the petition said.

The woman said she left her home and went to a public place to call 911.

She wrote in the petition she was afraid Prater would retaliate against her for making the complaint.

Lexington police are investigating the allegations, said Sgt. Donnell Gordon. The Fayette County Attorney’s office is also aware of the allegations against Prater, officials with that office said.

Constables warned they can’t have vehicles towed

Prater also illegally ordered a car to be towed last week.

On Oct. 7, Ashley Hollis’ brother left work at a nearby hotel, walked to Third Street, where he had parked his Nissan Sentra at the beginning of his shift, and discovered his car was gone.

It was shortly after midnight.

“He was calling his insurance company because he thought it was stolen,” Hollis said. Hollis started calling towing companies and eventually located the car at the Bluegrass Towing impound lot. She was told it would cost $180 to get her brother’s car out. Bluegrass Towing said the car was towed because it was in a fire lane. Her brother had parked there for two weeks and there was no sign or visible yellow line, Hollis said.

The constable’s office where Prater works is on Third Street.

“He even asked one of the constables if it was okay to park there and he said yes,” Hollis said.

Eventually, staff at Bluegrass Towing told Hollis to come and get the car and there would be no charge. Another constable arrived while Hollis and her brother were at the lot and told her constables and deputy constables were not allowed to order the towing of vehicles. According to documents connected to the towing and provided to the Herald-Leader, Prater signed the tow order.

McNabb said he was not aware of the incident.

Constables have been warned by Lexington police officials they cannot order tows for parking violations.

On June 1, Public Safety Commissioner Ken Armstrong sent letters to Fayette County constables reminding them they could not order the towing of vehicles. The memo said the city had received several complaints from residents that constables had ordered the towing of vehicles.

Under city ordinances, only the Lexington Police Department and LexPark can order tows for parking violations.

“No vehicles are to be towed at the direction of a constable or deputy constable under the authority...of the code of ordinances,” Armstrong wrote in the memo.

Hollis said her brother has never been in trouble and the experience left him emotionally frayed.

“The poor kid was beside himself,” Hollis said.

Other misdemeanor charges filed against constables

Prater and deputies in McNabb’s office are also facing other misdemeanor charges. McNabb is the District 1 constable.

In December, Prater, McNabb and Deputy Constable Tony Coffey were charged with improper use of blue lights on vehicles. City officials had repeatedly told them not to use the blue lights.

Coffey was charged with a similar offense for using blue lights in April 2019 and was convicted by a jury. He received a $100 fine in the 2019 case.

A hearing in the latest case is set for Oct. 26.

If convicted of prohibited use of blue lights, violators can receive a maximum $1,000 fine and up to 30 days in jail. The charges are misdemeanors.

Constables cannot use blue lights on vehicles unless the fiscal court — in this case, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council — permits constables to do so. The council has not given the Fayette constables that authority.

Fayette County constables largely serve as process servers, handling eviction notices and other civil summons. They can write tickets for traffic violations but do not receive the extensive training of police officers.

The office is funded through fees constables collect. Fayette County has three elected constables. Each can hire their deputies.

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