GATLINBURG (WATE) – The attorney for a Gatlinburg police detective charged with perjury for his testimony in the Ooltewah High School rape case has filed a motion to disqualify District Attorney Neal Pinkston, saying a civil claim over allegedly libelous statements to the media causes a conflict of interest in the case.
The charges against Det. Rodney Burns are related to a hearing on February 15 in Hamilton County Juvenile Court involving Ooltewah High School rape case that happened during a trip to Gatlinburg. The aggravated perjury charge carries a sentence of two to four years behind bars.
More coverage: Ooltewah Rape Case
Burns has denied the allegations, calling District Attorney Pinkston’s accusations “baseless and reckless,” in a statement from his attorney. He is seeking $300,000 in a lawsuit that claims Pinkston harmed his reputation by publishing and sending press releases accusing him of perjury.
Web Extra: Read the full motion [PDF]
Burns’ attorney says the Division of Claims Administration did not deny the civil claim and it has been transferred to the Claims Commission for litigation.
“As a party in a contested civil lawsuit involving his own unethical conduct, General Pinkston has a clear conflict of interest that prevents him from being a just and fair prosecutor in Mr. Burns libel action. The conflict is clear and obvious,” said attorney Bryan E. Delius in a press release.
Delius says Pinkston refused to step aside and let a prosecutor pro tempore take over the case. WATE 6 On Your Side has reached out to Pinkston for comment. He said he was not allowed to comment on pending cases.