Talk around Columbia County (and some places in Greene County) has been about the bizarre saga of an alleged assault at the home of a Columbia County deputy sheriff over Independence Day weekend and the ethics of the investigation.
Mystery continues to surround what exactly happened at the home of Alex and Kelly Rosenstrach in the early morning hours of July 5 and why the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office was allowed for more than a month to investigate one of their own. The incident was overshadowed by serious questions about favoritism and the ability to conduct a fair and proper investigation, despite denials of bias from Sheriff David Bartlett.
State police agreed to head up the investigation into the alleged assault of Harold Handy on July 5. Ironically, the request to state police was made by Bartlett. Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka also filed his own request.
It’s about time.
Czajka’s request was responsible for the change in the agency taking over the investigation, state police spokesman Beau Duffy said.
The district attorney’s office requested that state police handle the investigation given “the totality of the circumstances,” Czajka said.
But some questions still have to be answered.
What does Czajka mean by “totality of the circumstances”? What was the tipping point that dropped the investigation into the lap of the state police? Why was the investigation transferred now instead of a week ago? Two weeks ago? What are the facts that led to Bartlett’s decision to relinquish the investigation?
Czajka stressed Thursday that investigations take time.
“There is no direct relationship between the length of an investigation and the seriousness of the ultimate charges, if there are charges,” Czajka said. “Some cases take years to investigate before charges are filed. That does not mean I think this case will take years.”
But the alleged assault took place 34 days ago. How much time do investigators need to put it all together?
These are all answerable questions, but at least we now have the promise of an investigation that will be ethical, speedy and free of the specter of a conflict of interest.