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MI- Probation officer charged with soliciting sex commits suicide

9-26-2009 Michigan:

WYANDOTTE — A 27th District Court probation officer has committed suicide after being charged with soliciting sex from an 18-year-old woman.

Late Thursday afternoon Police Chief Daniel Grant confirmed that the body of Robert Joseph Samson was found in Oscoda County. The 60-year-old Wyandotte resident died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Michigan State Police investigators said Samson had a drug-counseling business on the side, in addition to his job as a probation officer at the court that serves Wyandotte and Riverview.

Samson reportedly encouraged a woman on probation to take his drug program. It was alleged that he would waive the fee for the program if she would engage in various sex acts with him.

Detective Sgt. Kenneth Walker of the Michigan State Police Metro South Post in Taylor said the woman had met with police a week earlier and provided information that there could be “inappropriate and illegal” activity at a drug class held at the Horizon Building in Taylor.

“We took that information and began surveillance,” Walker said.

It’s not clear where the activity was supposed to have occurred, but Walker said it would have been outside of the normally scheduled class. When police believed they had enough evidence, they moved in and arrested Samson.

He was arraigned Tuesday at 23rd District Court in Taylor on four felony counts of soliciting criminal sexual misconduct. Walker said Samson cooperated with the investigation after the arrest. He was released on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond.

On Wednesday, Walker said state police still had an active investigation going, believing that other probationers might have received similar propositions.

Detective Sgt. Joseph White of the Michigan State Police Second District headquarters, who was handling the case, said as of Friday morning that he had not received confirmation of Samson’s death. He said he had heard about it only through unofficial channels.

He said he was aware of a couple of people who posted allegations against Samson on a WXYZ TV (Channel 7) blog, but he had not been contacted by anyone other than the 18-year-old woman concerning similar sexual propositions that Samson might have made.

Grant said that when a person dies far from home, it is common for law enforcement agencies to contact police in the victim’s home city. In most cases, it is then up to local police to contact next of kin.

Grant said it is not known why Samson chose to drive to the county in northeastern Michigan. He said it was believed that Samson had a second house in the Howell area, but he had no known connections to Oscoda County.

Ed Pokrzywnicki, Oscoda County undersheriff, said a passer-by came across Samson’s body on Oak Lake Road in an area about 15 miles outside of Mio, near Lewiston.

“It’s a county road — primarily gravel — in a very rural area,” Pokrzywnicki said. “I don’t know why he was here. He might have been to the area before.”

Pokrzywnicki said Samson’s body was found on the ground next to his vehicle, with a rifle next to him.

Natalie Shaul, probation director for 27th District Court, said Samson had been suspended Tuesday morning. The department had a resignation letter that he was asked to sign Thursday, but he never showed up.

Shaul said Samson had been with the probation department since 1983, starting as a volunteer. In 1996 he was hired as a paid part-time probation officer. He worked 24 hours per week, with no benefits.

Samson also served as 27th District Court’s work force coordinator. He is credited with developing the program.

“All of us are shocked,” Shaul said after his arraignment. “I almost fell out of my chair.”

Shaul said she wasn’t aware of what Samson “dabbled in” outside of work, but he appeared to be a good probation officer. She said she never received any calls from probationers with allegations against Samson.

“I had no indication of this,” she said.

Grant said Samson’s suicide was a sad ending to the story.

“It’s unfortunate that there’s no way of telling when someone is that despondent,” he said. “If you knew that, maybe you could get them some help.” ..Source.. by Jim Kasuba

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