Former Lake County Sheriff’s deputy Kenneth Dale Turkle, 42, entered a plea of not guilty during a Wednesday, April 16, hearing.
Turkle, who was lodged in the Klamath County Jail and appeared in the Lake County Circuit Court via video monitor, pleaded not guilty to first-degree custodial interference, a class B felony, and tampering with a witness, a class C felony.
He is accused of engaging in a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl throughout the month of March, and resigned from his position with the Lake County Sheriff’s Department earlier this month following an investigation by the Oregon State Police.
Turkle is charged with six misdemeanor counts for alleged sexual incidents in March.
Lake County District Attorney Ulys Stapleton said that Turkle’s bail on the felony charges was reduced from $100,000 to $40,000 – of which Turkle posted the necessary 10 percent bail — by Judge Robert Nichols, Jr., after Turkle’s defense attorney said that his client was not a flight risk given his familial connections in the local community.
Stapleton also said that Turkle posted 10 percent of $10,000 bail for the misdemeanor charges.
Turkle turned himself in to law enforcement officials on the morning of Sunday, April 13, after a 17-year-old female was reported missing by her family earlier that weekend.
The teen was staying with friends in Grants Pass when Turkle allegedly picked her up on the morning of Saturday, April 12, and drove her to Alturas, Calif., where the two spent the night in a motel paid for by Turkle’s cousin, Stapleton said.
The DA also said that Turkle’s two sisters later convinced him to turn himself in to law enforcement authorities after he initially denied knowing anything about the 17-year-old female’s whereabouts.
A search warrant was issued on Saturday, April 12, and Turkle turned himself in the next morning, Stapleton said.
Stapleton said he’s held discussions with federal agents on the possibility of potential prosecution for the issue of Turkle transporting the teen over state lines.
Turkle worked for the Lake County Sheriff’s Department for more than 10 years.
Turkle’s next court appearance is 1:30 p.m. on Monday, April 28.