Loudon firefighter charged with sexual battery

LOUDON, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Like most people in Loudon, Renda Cruze can't believe her ears:

"It's unbelievable - it just doesn't sound right," said Cruze.

Ricky Sutton - who, up until Saturday, was a Loudon firefighter - is accused of forcing himself on an 80-year-old woman on his day off.

"Friday afternoon, a resident of the City of Loudon made a statement to our police department that Mr. Sutton made some unwanted advances toward her," said Lynn Mills, Loudon's City Manager.

The woman told officers Sutton came to her home for a visit, and she let him in because she recognized him from when he'd been there before on official firefighter business.

According to the incident report, she said Sutton grabbed her by both hands and told her how attractive she was. He then pulled her towards his body and kissed her on the mouth. The report says she told Sutton to stop and tried pushing him away, but he kissed her again. Officers charged him with sexual battery.

"I've known him almost 9 years, roughly and I've never had any indication of any type of behavior of this sort from Ricky. He has an outgoing personality, friendly. Been a good employee - it's just shocking for all of the community," said Mills.

"They're there for your protection - supposed to be, to help out with things. I've never heard nothing bad out of any of them," said Cruze.

Mills said he planned to suspend Sutton until the case was resolved in court, but said Sutton resigned on Saturday morning. He said Sutton started working at the fire department in 1998 and became a full-time firefighter in 2007. This was the first complaint against him.

Loudon's fire chief said he's as a shocked as everyone else by what Sutton is accused of, but said the case doesn't reflect the whole department. He said his firefighters are highly trained professionals whose top concern is taking care of the people of Loudon.

Sutton is free on a $25,000 bond. He's due back in court on October 8.


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