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Sheriff’s chaplain faces indecent exposure charge

UPDATED: Fri., May 4, 2012, 7:37 p.m.

A volunteer chaplain for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office has been terminated after being implicated in an indecent exposure case.

The Rev. Robert C. Christian, 61, was terminated two weeks ago from his volunteer chaplain position once the case was forwarded to city prosecutors, sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Craig Chamberlin said. An arrest warrant charging Christian with indecent exposure was issued Friday.

“When we found out that this investigation was started, he was immediately placed on administrative leave,” Chamberlin said of Christian, who serves as senior pastor at Heritage Congregational Church in Spokane. “Two weeks ago, when the city forwarded the case to the city prosecutor’s office, the decision was made to terminate his affiliation with the (sheriff’s) chaplaincy program.”

Christian had been ordered to turn himself in Friday at the Public Safety Building.

The incident that led to the criminal charge was reported on March 15, but Spokane Police Department Detective Stephanie Barkley said she was not at liberty to discuss the specific allegations.

“All I can say is that an arrest warrant was issued for Robert C. Christian for indecent exposure,” she said.

The charge is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to a year in the county jail.

Chamberlin also said he did not know the nature of the allegations against Christian.

“I actually have zero information on the actual incident itself,” he said. “Obviously, the Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff (Ozzie) Knezovich took this accusation very seriously. That’s why the determination (was made) that termination would be the best thing for the Sheriff’s Office.”

According to Heritage Congregational Church’s website, Christian also is a 13-year law enforcement veteran from the suburbs of Toledo, Ohio. The site indicates that he has been in the ministry since 1989.

Chamberlin was unsure how long Christian had volunteered as a chaplain, but the church website says he became one of about a dozen volunteer sheriff’s chaplains in 2009.

Efforts to reach Christian at the church office Friday were not successful.