Former Barton County Administrator Richard Boeckman will not face criminal sexual battery charges, at least for now, Barton Count Attorney Amy Mellor said.
Due to a potential conflict of interest in her handling the case, Mellor said her office, along with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, turned the case over to an outside counselor, Chase County Attorney Bill Halvorsen. “He didn’t feel the evidence supported the charge,” she said.
The KBI submitted its findings to Mellor’s office in May. She then presented them to Halvorsen who emailed his determination to Mellor earlier this month.
After receiving the replay, local authorities discussed the matter and concurred with Halvorsen’s conclusion, Mellor said. However, she said this doesn’t preclude future charges should more information come to light.
Boeckman resigned as county administrator last October, and his resignation followed several contentious County Commission meetings and executive sessions dating back to last February. He was awarded a $27,500 contract buyout.
It was following these meetings that Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir had looked into potentially criminal activity on the part of Boeckman and thought it best to contact the KBI as an outside investigator. He referred the case to the KBI on Oct. 17 and the agency initiated its probe on Oct. 27.
Clouding the matter is a civil suit filed March 1 by Robin Rziha, who claims Boeckman behaved inappropriately toward her, a claim Boeckman denied in his answer the petition filed the following week. In addition, an early 2016 letter to county officials from former county employee Steve Barger alleged Boeckman created a hostile work environment.
Boeckman served as both the county counselor and the administrator. After his departure, the commission voted to not fill the administrator’s position, and has a contract with Ellsworth attorney Carey Hipp as counselor.