Cooke won’t handle prosecution of officer

Published 9:15 am Friday, May 14, 2010

FRANKLIN—The Southampton County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office will not be prosecuting the case against an Isle of Wight sheriff’s deputy accused of sexual contact with an underage girl because of a conflict of interest.

Defense attorneys for Ronald Carwile, who was arrested and charged in connection with the case in March, plan to call Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Cooke as a defense witness.

“I don’t see how I can stay on this case,” Cooke said in Franklin Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on Wednesday afternoon.

Cooke said in court he believes the defense was using this as a tactic to keep him and his office from prosecuting the case, calling it “probably the sleaziest motion” he’s seen in his years in Franklin and Southampton County.

Carwile, 48, of Lakeview Road in Franklin is accused of committing sexual acts with an underage girl from September 2009 until this past January. He has maintained his innocence.

Franklin police spokesman Lt. Tim Whitt said in March that a “third party” reported Carwile’s alleged crimes to the police, who investigated. After a review of the facts by the commonwealth’s attorney’s office, warrants were issued for Carwile’s arrest.

According to the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office’s Web site, Carwile has been with the department since 2004. He is in charge of evidence control and has an extensive background in forensics and is called upon to process crime scenes.

Cooke’s office will have to find a prosecutor to take the case.