Candidate's son facing charges for battery, maintaining common nuisance

KOSCIUSKO COUNTY, Ind. -- The son of a candidate for sheriff in Kosciusko County is facing charges of battery and maintaining a common nuisance for an incident that happened in July 2021 involving alleged sexual contact with a minor and marijuana use, according to court records.

The investigation began in August 2021 when an Indiana State Police detective was contacted about a possible sexual misconduct with a minor case.

According to the victim, who is between 14 and 16 years of age, on July 4, 2021 she and two friends met up to watch fireworks. Later in the evening, the victim and her two friends met up with three men at an industrial shop/storage unit in North Webster, reports said.

Witnesses told police Zachary Smith brought marijuana to the storage unit and provided it to the others, reports said.

The victim allegedly became intoxicated and ended up alone with Smith in the storage unit, reports said.

Witnesses reported seeing the victim and Smith touching. The two went downstairs and had sexual intercourse, according to the probable cause affidavit.

The victim told investigators much of the contact was consensual, including the intercourse, and at no time was she forced to do anything against her will, reports said.

Two of the men who were there said Smith told them each he had sex with the victim, reports said.

The case was investigated by the Indiana State Police.

Smith was charged with battery and maintaining a public nuisance in June 2022. A special prosecutor signed the probable cause affidavit.

Smith is scheduled to be in court for a change of plea hearing on August 16.

Smith's father is Jim Smith, a Republican running for Kosciusko County Sheriff.

"My son is now an adult who makes his own choices, for good or ill," said Jim Smith.  "Needless to say, as a father, I will always love and support my son, but I will not support or excuse any actions he may take that violate the law or cause harm to others."

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