Breaking News
More () »

Former Sevier Co. deputy who retired while his conduct was being investigated now running for constable

Neil Matthew Cubberley will run in the Republican primary for the Sevier County constable role.

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. — Neil Matthew Cubberley, a former Sevier County Sheriff's deputy, is running for Constable in Sevier County. Cubberley retired as the sheriff's office was preparing to investigate him for a sexual assault allegation stemming from a 2019 incident.

Constable Kent Harris, the president of the East Tennessee Constables Association, and Constable Ken Potter, the head of training for the association, said retiring before an internal affairs investigation could be completed was suspicious. 

"I would have wanted him to complete that process," Potter said. "Internal investigations tend to be neutral and should clear the officer if there's not anything wrong." 

Potter said retiring before the investigation was complete gives the appearance that the deputy did something wrong, even if they haven't been convicted. 

In April 2019, a woman accused Cubberley of touching her inappropriately while she drove him to his hotel in Knox County.

The police report said the alleged incident happened on April 7, 2019. A Knox County Sheriff's Office's investigation file said they got a report of a sexual battery on April 12, 2019. 

Its report said the woman accused Cubberley of forcing himself on her and grabbing her "breasts and vaginal area with his hand, making skin-on-skin contact."

The report said the victim pushed the horn on her car and Cubberley left the vehicle. 

The investigation file said Knox County investigators asked the alleged victim to go to the Helen Ross McNabb Sexual Assault Center to undergo a sexual assault exam. 

The file said the alleged incident happened around 5 days before the person went to the McNabb Center, so they could not collect any evidence. 

Investigators then asked the alleged victim to call Cubberley to see if he would apologize for the incident and he said "I am sorry," according to the file. 

The file includes a text message between mutual friends, where one of them claimed Cubberley told the alleged victim he "kissed her and grabbed her boob."

In May 2019, a letter from Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen and Assistant District Attorney Hector Sanchez said they could not move forward with prosecution after the sheriff's office's investigation because they said the case was untenable.

"This case is closed, and will remain closed due to an unsustainable prosecution," the letter said.

Michael Hodges, the SCSO chief deputy, said Cubberley was placed on administrative leave because of the investigation. 

Hodges said it's standard practice for his office to conduct an internal affairs investigation in cases like this, but he said Cubberley retired before the investigation began.

Both Harris and Potter said Cubberley is well within his rights to run for constable because he was never convicted of a crime, but they added constables have a lot of responsibility and should be held to a high standard. 

However, Potter said "it's doubtful" he would hire Cubberley for a law enforcement job if he saw he quit before an internal investigation could be completed. 

Constables serve as court officers, conduct traffic stops, help in school zones, make arrests and assist wherever law enforcement asks. They have the same amount of power as police officers and deputies in East Tennessee but they don't have the same amount of oversight. 

"They pretty well stand-alone," Potter said. 

Because of the responsibility, both Harris and Potter pushed the Tennessee legislature to require 40 hours of training for anybody elected as a constable. It is a misdemeanor if they do not complete the training. 

Harris has over 30 years as a constable in Tennessee, and Potter has worked in law enforcement for 40 years and written a book about his experience. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out