Former Anniston officer charged with sexually abusing child

A former Anniston police officer is in jail accused of molesting a young girl.{} Thomas Anthony Gassaway, 39, of Wellington, is charged with sexual abuse of a child under the age of twelve.

According to court documents, the incident took place between November 21, 2009 and July 1, 2013.{} Gassaway resigned from the Anniston Police Department in late July after five years of service.

Anniston Police Chief Shane Denham said if Gassaway committed the crime, the former officer should not receive any special treatment and be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Denham said he learned of the accusations in early July.

"We were first notified by [the Department of Human Resources] and also that the [Alabama Bureau of Investigation] was doing an investigation in concert with [DHR] along with other agencies.{} That's how we were notified," Denham said.

Anniston Police began their own internal investigation, and placed Gassaway on paid administrative leave.{} Denham said he could not discuss details of the investigation, but the police had an investigation update meeting scheduled with Gassaway for July 2e.

"He decided at that point that it was in his best interest for him to go ahead resign and we accepted the resignation on that day," Denham said.

{}Gassaway's arrest came 10 days later.{} Northeast Alabama ABI agents declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.{} Chief Denham said Anniston Police will offer their assistance to the ABI if needed.

"It's troubling for everybody, for everybody that works here.{} If it's found that he did what they say he did, then it's a black eye for the law enforcement community because we're held to a higher standard," Denham said.

"This job is a job of public trust and you have to maintain that public trust."

Gassaway's first court appearance is scheduled for September 5.{} He is currently detained in the Cleburne County jail on a $500,000 cash bond.