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Klamath Sheriff Faces 9 Criminal Charges

<p>Klamath County Sheriff Frank Skrah</p>

Samantha Tipler

Klamath County Sheriff Frank Skrah

The Oregon Department of Justice announced Friday that Klamath County Sheriff Frank Skrah is being indicted on nine charges. The charges include counts of harassment, official misconduct, attempted assault in the fourth degree and strangulation.

Skrah did not enter a plea during his arraignment. The conditions of his release prohibit him from conducting patrols, traffic or criminal stops and prohibit him from having any physical contact with suspects or inmates.

“All law enforcement officers, including Sheriff Skrah, are sworn to uphold the law in Oregon," said Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum in a statement. "The grand jury has determined there is a basis to bring charges based on his actions, including the use of excessive force and the failure to perform required duties. As with all persons charged with a crime, he is innocent until proven guilty."

Klamath County Commissioners have been involved in a legal tussle with the sheriff's office regarding their decision to grant requested leave to seven sheriff deputies who say they were involved in the investigation. Those deputies returned to work after Skrah filed a legal complaint against the commissioners.

The Klamath Board of Commissioners released a statement following Skrah's indictment.

“The board is paying close attention to these developments, public safety continues to be our highest priority,” said Klamath Commissioner Kelly Minty Morris, in a release. “Under Oregon law, the sheriff is an independently-elected official, the county does not supervise the sheriff, and he does not answer to us," she said.

Skrah denied any wrong doing at a press conference Thursday.

"Whatever the results that process takes, I will continue to do the job the people have elected me to do. I make no excuse for the course I have set and the results of those efforts," said Skrah.

The Oregon DOJ began its criminal investigation into Skrah in April after allegations were filed about the sheriff.

Copyright 2015 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Amanda Peacher