File on 1990s sex scandal raises questions about Bradley County sheriff’s new administrator

The start of a lengthy Chattanooga TFP report:

When Bradley County Sheriff-elect Eric Watson announced in August that Arnold Botts would be his director of administration, he spoke proudly of Botts’ law enforcement and administrative experience as a former Cleveland police chief.

Watson didn’t mention a decades-old scandal that could have led to Botts’ indictment had he not resigned as Cleveland police chief and promised never to work in law enforcement again.

On Friday, Watson said Botts admitted up front during his job interview he had “made some bad choices in the past.”

But the sheriff said he didn’t know about a 1991 TBI probe and hearings by the Bradley County grand jury into allegations against Botts.

The case file can’t be found in the district attorney general’s office.

But Botts’ file at Tennessee’s Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission includes a revised Bradley County grand jury report from Oct. 25, 1991, that implies Botts resigned in lieu of indictment.

And a member of that long-ago grand jury told the Times Free Press last week that the panel heard women testify that Botts used his position as police chief to coerce them into sex.

In a statement emailed Friday night, Botts acknowledged the investigation by an “outside agency” regarding “my conduct with employees of the Cleveland Police Department” but said he was “not guilty of any criminal misconduct.” He did not respond when asked if he disputed that the investigation was related to him coercing women for sexual favors.