Richland Center’s police chief has resigned after being charged last week with sexual assault and theft for allegedly groping a bartender and stealing her tip money last summer.

Lucas Clements, 40, submitted his resignation Monday to the city’s Police Commission, which accepted it unanimously, according to commission president Peter Walsh. Clements had been on paid leave.

Clements faces three counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and one count of theft, all misdemeanors, in the June 16 incident. Not-guilty pleas were entered on his behalf Friday in Richland County Circuit Court, and he was later released on a $5,000 signature bond.

In a two-paragraph resignation letter, Clements thanks colleagues and city staff and says, “as I begin the process of defending the allegations made against me, I do not wish to draw any more unnecessary negative attention to our department and our city.”

Clements said in the letter that he’d been a police officer for 16 years.

A criminal complaint alleges Clements groped a female bartender multiple times at an unidentified bar. The bartender told investigators Clements appeared drunk when he arrived and she served him three drinks before he repeatedly groped her.

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The complaint says the woman hid outside because she was scared and when she returned to the bar Clements was gone and so was her tip money.

As a condition of his bail, Clements is barred from drinking alcohol or being in places where it is served, and is barred from any contact with the alleged victim.

Lt. Billy Jones is serving as acting police chief. Walsh said the deadline for applications for Clements’ replacement is Nov. 29 and the commission will meet to consider them Dec. 5.

“It’s been kind of a tumultuous time,” Walsh said, but with Clements’ resignation, the community can “start the process of healing.”

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