Officer files defamation suit

MIAMI COUNTY — Tipp City Police Department Deputy Chief of Police Gregory Adkins, of Tipp City, filed a civil suit last week alleging Paul Reece, a former candidate for the office of Miami County Sheriff and a Piqua resident, published “false defamatory statements” about Adkins that accused Adkins of “abusing his authority as a member of law enforcement,” according to the suit.

Others named in the suit, which was filed in Miami County Common Pleas Court, include Reece’s wife, Denise Reece; Tina Roberts, a Tipp City resident; and John Does, 1-10.

The suit calls Paul Reece “the mastermind behind the conspiracy” against Adkins, stemming from a “personal vendetta” against Adkins during Reece’s campaign for Miami County Sheriff. Adkins claims the defendants made false statements about Adkins “with malicious intent to interfere with and injure his professional reputation as a law abiding and respected law enforcement officer.”

The suit states the “defamatory statements” accused Adkins of abusing his authority and “violating state and federal law by disseminating personal and confidential information about Reece.” The statements about Adkins were made to local government officials, as well as posted on Facebook through videos and written posts, according to the suit. The suit also states the defendants “continuously asked local government officials to initiate a criminal investigation of Deputy Chief Adkins based on these false and demeaning accusations.”

The suit claims the defendants “alleged, on numerous occasions,” that Adkins disseminated the information about Reece to Miami Valley Today reporter Melanie Yingst and three unidentified residents, the latter of whom published the information on their personal Facebook accounts.

The suit states the defendants “failed to investigate and uncover the truth” prior to publishing their accusations, adding that “Yingst explicitly told Reece that the information she relied upon to write her article came from the Miami County Prosecutor’s Office early on in the Defendants’ smear campaign against Deputy Chief Adkins.”

The suit claims the defendants made these statements to further Reece’s campaign for Miami County Sheriff and also to retaliate against Adkin’s “lawful involvement in investigating potential misconduct by Sergeant Marc Basye” of the Tipp City Police Department.

Basye is named as a “close friend” of the defendants and “was accused of leaking information about a DUI suspect,” namely Sheri Duchak, the wife of Miami County Sheriff Dave Duchak, Reece’s political opponent for the 2020 Miami County Sheriff election. The allegations against Basye prompted an investigation from the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) unit. It was the BCI’s investigatory report that the defendants claimed Adkins “unlawfully disseminated.”

A grand jury declined to indict Basye on any criminal charges. The suit states the Tipp City Police Department’s investigation into Basye’s alleged actions was a “routine internal investigation” to determine if Basye had violated any department policies. Chief of Police Eric Burris of the Tipp City Police Department found there was “insufficient evidence to support disciplinary action” against Basye, and Basye returned to active duty at the Tipp City Police Department in April.

Adkins is seeking “to remedy the false defamatory statements” and “to prove the truth while restoring his professional reputation and good name.” Adkins has been a police officer for over 20 years, including acting as police sergeant for 10 years prior to his current position as deputy chief.

The identities of defendants John Does 1-10 are currently unknown, but the suit alleges they “participated in the conspiracy by formulating, publishing and/or republishing the false and defamatory statements” regarding Adkins to third parties. The suit states the identities of John Does 1-10 can be uncovered through initial discovery, at which time they will be served with a copy of the summons and the complaint.

The suit identifies correspondence sent from one or more of the defendants to local government officials, including Troy Law Director Grant Kerber, Tipp City Director of Law Jonathan Freeman, Tipp City Manager Timothy Eggleston, Tipp City Council members, and Tipp City Mayor Joseph Gibson. The suit also alleges the defendants wrote to the following news outlets: Dayton Daily News, Tipp City Gazette, WHIO, WDTN, and WRGT Dayton News.

In total, the suit states the defendants published approximately 30 “false and defamatory statements,” including letters and social media posts, about Adkins within a month that injured Adkins’ professional reputation.

Paul Reece was reached by phone on Thursday, but he declined to comment on the civil suit and its allegations.

Adkins was reached by email on Thursday and stated, “I am looking forward to this matter working through the justice process.”

He declined to comment further on the matter.