Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Lieutenant Resigns as Judge Sets Bond

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Lieutenant Resigns as Judge Sets Bond

Article excerpt

MANATEE: 20-year veteran of Sheriff's Office accused of molesting two children


In a one-sentence letter, Lt. Dale Couch resigned from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday, just hours after a judge set his bond on charges of child molestation.

The Sheriff's Office received Couch's letter of resignation today although it was dated May 23, announcing that he had resigned and canceling the hearing to determine if he should be terminated from his job.

Hours earlier, a judge had denied prosecutors' motion for pretrial detention for Couch, arrested Thursday after being accused of molesting two children. Couch was held on no bond over the weekend, on a courtesy hold in the Sarasota County jail.

The motion was filed and evidence presented by Assistant State Attorney Dawn Buff to a judge at hearings on Friday and Saturday. Buff presented evidence to the court that Couch posed a "credible threat of violence," with a counselor offering testimony. Maj. Connie Shingledecker of the Sheriff's Office also testified, stating that Couch had turned himself in peacefully and without signs of trouble.

After Judge Thomas Krug denied the motion of pretrial detention, prosecutors asked for $500,000 bond for each of the two life felony charges and $75,000 for the second-degree felony charge.

Krug set bond for Couch at a total of $207,500 this morning. Bond was set at $100,000 for each of the two counts of lewd and lascivious molestation of a child under age 12. The child was 9 years old at the time of the allegations last summer and the two counts carry a potential life sentence. Bond for the third charge, a second-degree felony of lewd and lascivious molestation against a child who was then 12, was set at $7,500.

As part of the bond terms, Couch will also wear an ankle monitor, turn over any firearms to the Sheriff's Office and have no contact with either child.

Couch knew both children, although his defense attorney, Greg Hagopian, said Couch has had no contact with either child since the allegations first surfaced last July.

Hagopian said Couch, 50, was hoping to be released Tuesday. …

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