WESTMORELAND, TN – A small town Tennessee police officer was arrested after officials said he admitted to having sex with a 16-year-old girl.
John Edwin Puckett, 49, has been charged with two counts of aggravated statutory rape and one count of soliciting sexual exploitation from jailbait.
Westmoreland Police Chief K.D. Smith went to Puckett’s home on Tuesday after the officer failed to show up for work. Smith said that Puckett confessed to having sex with the girl and then resigned from the department.
“When he told me he had been involved in sexual activities with a 16 year old I was speechless,” Smith said.
According to an affidavit filed with the Sumner County Sheriffs Department, the teen’s mother called police after the girl told the woman she had sex with Puckett on at least two different occasions. The mother then confronted Puckett, who admitted to her that the allegations were true.
The victim told investigators that the sex occurred either in her car or Puckett’s, and happened at different spots around Westmoreland. The teen had previously babysat Puckett’s two young children, and lived near Puckett’s home.
After launching an investigation, officers discovered several nude photos of Puckett on the victim’s cell phone, as well as an explicit video of him performing a sex act.
Smith said Puckett has worked in law enforcement for over 23 years, and until Tuesday, was highly respected within the close-knit department, which serves a community of roughly 2,200 people. Smith says he’s known him for more than two decades, and hired Puckett because of his impeccable track record. Must’ve done pretty well on the physical, too, if he could keep up with a kid one-third his age.
“This has put a black mark on the department,” said Chief Smith. “It is dishonoring the badge, it is discrediting the department, the city, and the other officers he worked with.”
Puckett is being held in the Sumner County Jail in Gallatin on $150,000 bond. He’s scheduled to appear in court on September 4.