A senior member of the Tisbury Police Department, Sergeant Robert Fiske, has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation, Tisbury town administrator John Bugbee confirmed this week.
Mr. Bugbee said he would not comment on the nature of the investigation. Tisbury Police Chief Dan Hanavan said he would not comment on an internal personnel matter.
The Times has learned that Sergeant Fiske, a 16-year veteran of the police department, was the officer in charge the night of July 23, when police responded to a report of a domestic disturbance at 194 West Spring Street.
According to the police report, David Thrift, 29, assaulted his wife after she found him sexually molesting the couple’s 15-year-old babysitter in her bedroom, as their three young children slept on a pullout couch in the living room.
Mrs. Thrift was transported to the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. Officer Michael Gately left the scene to assist Mrs. Thrift, as Sergeant Fiske and Officer Scott Ogden searched the vicinity for Mr. Thrift, who had run from the house when police arrived. The babysitter agreed to remain inside the house to care for the three children.
Unable to locate Mr. Thrift after one hour, Sergeant Fiske and Officer Ogden returned to the Tisbury Police Station. In the meantime, according to police, Mr. Thrift returned to the house and raped the young girl, despite the presence of his three children, according to the police report.
Standard police procedures and laws governing sexual assault investigations require police to do everything possible to protect victims of sexual assault, according to one knowledgeable police source.
Following a dangerousness hearing, Mr. Thrift is currently being held without bail in the Dukes County Jail, on charges that include rape of a child with force, assault with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery, and resisting arrest.