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Police chief charged after signing tea party leader up on gay dating sites

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A western Wisconsin police chief is facing misdemeanor charges for allegedly signing a tea party leader up on gay dating, pornography and federal health care websites.

Town of Campbell Police Chief Tim Kelemen and La Crosse Tea Party leader Greg Luce have been at odds with each other since last fall.

Back in October, Luce and his supporters staged protests on an overpass in the town, which is located just outside of La Crosse, but Kelemen convinced the town board to pass an ordinance banning signs, which angered tea party supporters, WTAQ reports. Kelemen and his attorney say tea party members then harassed the town's four police officers for months following the ordinance, the La Crosse Tribune says.

In January, Luce and another man, Nicholas Newman, filed a lawsuit against the city which claims banning signs from the overpass violates free-speech rights.

Not long after Luce filed the lawsuit, he began receiving calls and emails from gay dating, porn and health care websites. Investigators tracked some of the activity to Kelemen, who told investigators in early June he wanted to get back at the man he said was distracting his officers, the Journal Sentinel reports.

Kelemen says he only used Luce's email address to create the accounts and he didn't think it was a big deal or illegal, because when he had complained to the state Division of Criminal Investigations about the Internet harassment his department was experiencing he was told to get better spam filters, the Journal Sentinel says.

Luce and Newman's lawsuit has since been amended, and now accuses Kelemen of invasion of privacy and civil identity theft, News 8000 reports. This lawsuit is still pending.

Outside of the lawsuit, Kelemen has been charged with unlawful use of a computerized communication system, reports say.

“There’s not really any factual dispute about what took place. It’s just how those facts fit the statutes,” Monroe County District Attorney Kevin Croninger told the Associated Press. “This is more of a harassing situation than to harm someone’s reputation. That is the distinction I see.”

Kelemen is expected to appear in court Thursday on the misdemeanor charges, reports say. He may accept a plea deal.

He's been on paid administrative leave since June as the investigation continues, News 8000 reports. If convicted, Kelemen will still be able to serve as chief of police, reports say.

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