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Candidate facing assault charge wins Franklin County sheriff race

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Former Cpt. John Grismore won the Franklin County sheriff race Tuesday, fending off two write-in challengers. Grismore was charged with simple assault a few weeks ago for allegedly kicking a handcuffed man.

A former Franklin County deputy sheriff who is currently facing an assault charge for allegedly kicking a handcuffed man is set to become the new sheriff of Franklin County.

John Grismore won Tuesday’s election with 8,900 votes, according to unofficial results from the Secretary of State’s office that were posted Friday afternoon.

Grismore fended off two candidates who mounted write-in campaigns against him. Mark Lauer, a lieutenant in the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, received 5,281 votes. Gale Messier, a former deputy in the Chittenden County Sheriff’s Office, got 626 votes.

“I'm appreciative of the voters of Franklin County for seeing through all of the negativity that was initially published,” Grismore said in an interview on Friday. “I believe that we are innocent until proven guilty. And I'm confident that once all the evidence is presented, that I will be proven innocent of any charge that was levied.”

More from Vermont Public: Franklin County sheriff candidate pleads not guilty to kicking a handcuffed person

Grismore’s win comes just a few weeks after he pleaded not guilty to a simple assault charge. In August, Grismore allegedly kicked a man who was handcuffed and shackled at the sheriff department. The man, who was intoxicated, later told state police that Grismore kicked him three times, including twice in the groin.

Video of the incident was published by news outlets shortly after Grismore won the Republican and Democratic primaries for sheriff. Both parties called on him to withdraw from the race, but Grismore refused and he defended his actions.

“Police work is not always pretty — sometimes we have to use force, and that force doesn't look good to the uneducated,” Grismore said on Friday. “We're trained to use things in our repertoire, and our training and our tool belt, if you will, to gain compliance through the application of pain. A lot of people just don't know that.”

More from Vermont Public: Addison County's sheriff refuses to resign after sexual assault charges. It's unlikely he'll be forced to step down

The pending criminal charge would not prevent Grismore from taking office. Sheriffs, as elected officials, can only be removed from office through impeachment, which is initiated by the Legislature.

But the criminal case could impede Grismore’s ability to carry out his duties. Earlier this year, Addison County Sheriff Peter Newton was barred from participating in law enforcement activities and carrying a gun as conditions of release after he pleaded not guilty to several charges, including two counts of felony sexual assault. Newton, who refused to resign after being charged, did not run for re-election this year.

Grand Isle State’s Attorney Doug DiSabito, who filed the case against Grismore, did not request any conditions of release last month during the arraignment. When asked by reporters last month if he’d ask for any conditions of release if Grismore won the election, DiSabito said he’d “cross that bridge” if it came up.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch with reporter Liam Elder-Connors @lseconnors.

Liam is a reporter based in Burlington and covers a variety of issues, including courts, law enforcement and housing.
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