A Salem police sergeant fired last December after state officials found he took advantage of a domestic violence victim to develop sexual relations has resigned from his new job with the city of Aumsville.
He resigned on Oct. 5, according to records of the state agency, which licenses officers and investigates complaints of misconduct. The agency did not list any current employer for Keniston as of Monday.
Keniston and his attorney, Krista Shipsey, could not be reached for comment Monday.
Aumsville city officials hired Keniston three months after learning that he had been fired while under state investigation.
Aumsville Police Chief Damian Flowers on Monday declined to comment on Keniston’s resignation, saying in an email that “we cannot comment on personnel matters.”
Flowers referred Salem Reporter to City Administrator Ron Harding, who could not be reached for comment.
Keniston’s challenge against the state’s Aug. 31 proposal to revoke his police certification is still pending.
The licensing agency concluded in its report that Keniston had “gained an advantage by using his position as a domestic violence officer and department issued equipment and resources to contact a domestic violence victim he was assigned to follow up with for personal gain, which included sexual contact,” according to the proposed order.
The state found that Keniston “used his position for personal gain and engaged in a sexual relationship with a victim he was sworn to protect, reflecting an extreme violation of trust, adversely reflecting on the public safety.”
That violated the state’s Criminal Justice Code of Ethics “and compromised the public’s trust in the public safety profession,” the state report said.
The Salem Police Department said in a Sept. 14 statement that conduct led to his firing last December.
The state Department of Justice has assigned attorney Natalie Fisher to represent the licensing agency. Fisher’s office on Nov. 6 referred the case to the state Office of Administrative Hearings office to set a date for the contested case, according to Sam Tenney, spokesman for the licensing agency.
A hearing date had not been scheduled as of early last week, Tenney said on Monday.
In addition to contesting the revocation, Keniston would also have the right to request a court review of any final order within 60 days.
If his license is revoked, he can no longer serve as a police or corrections officer in Oregon.
Aumsville city officials have declined to explain why they hired Keniston after he was fired from Salem for misconduct. City officials were aware of his firing from Salem and the pending state misconduct investigation.
A complaint to Salem police on April 1, 2022, triggered an internal investigation, according to department spokeswoman Angela Hedrick. She said the Salem agency put Keniston on paid leave Sept. 29, 2022.
Records of the licensing agency showed that Salem police fired Keniston on Dec. 8, 2022.
The licensing agency notified Aumsville police that it was investigating Keniston in February, two months after he was fired from Salem.
An agent conducting a background check on behalf of Aumsville police contacted the state agency on Feb. 13 “for information on Keniston’s ability to be certified,” according to Tenney.
Two days later, the licensing agency “responded that Keniston had an open professional standards case regarding his separation from Salem Police Department (SPD) and provided the agent with a separation form filed by SPD on Dec. 9, 2022,” Tenney said in an email on Sept. 15. “The professional standards case was triggered by Keniston’s termination from SPD.”
Aumsville hired Keniston on May 15, DPSST records showed.
Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.
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Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.