LAWRENCE, Mass. (AP) – A Lawrence police officer who was acquitted of rape nine years ago was charged Tuesday with kidnapping and raping a woman while on duty.

Kevin Sledge, 46, of Salem, N.H., is accused of leaving his post in the booking room early Friday and driving off in his own vehicle. Authorities say he found a woman, took her to a parking lot near the police station and raped her in his vehicle, then went back to work.

He waived extradition Tuesday afternoon in Derry, N.H., District Court and was ordered returned to Massachusetts to face charges including kidnapping and rape.

But the Eagle-Tribune of Lawrence reported Sledge was rushed to the Lawrence General Hospital with chest pain as he was being returned to the city.

A hospital spokeswoman was not immediately able give information on whether Sledge was admitted or his condition.

Sledge’s attorney Ronald Ranta said he had no information late Tuesday afternoon on Sledge’s condition.

He defended his client in a statement: “At this time, we have not been provided with any investigative reports of what Officer Sledge is alleged to have done, or to whom. We have waived rendition because it is our desire to expeditiously gather all the facts and vigorously defend Officer Sledge’s innocence.”

Police accused Sledge of keeping the victim in his car for about two hours Friday. They said she stayed there until about 4 a.m., when she reported the incident to police.

Lawrence police issued the arrest warrant for Sledge on Tuesday morning and asked him to turn himself in. But police said Sledge fled, and family members called police, fearing he was suicidal.

Sledge was arrested without incident Tuesday morning on Route 28 in Pelham, N.H., after an all-points bulletin was issued. He was not armed.

Mayor Michael Sullivan sent Sledge a letter Monday saying he planned to fire him based on the latest incident. Sledge has been disciplined several times during 15 years on the force.

In 1999, he was found not guilty of raping an ex-girlfriend and returned to duty.

In 2005, Sledge and his girlfriend accused each other of assault and battery in Salem, N.H., the Eagle-Tribune reported. The paper said he was stripped of his gun and badge and given a job at headquarters, but eventually was returned to duty.

The paper also said Sledge was fined $500 in 2004 after pleading guilty in Concord, N.H., to tampering with a public record, a misdemeanor. Investigators said he had used a fake Lawrence address several years earlier when he got a license to sell cars in New Hampshire.

AP-ES-09-30-08 1755EDT


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