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South Bend police officer arrested, charged with two counts of child seduction, four other felonies

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South Bend Police Department
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A South Bend police officer is being charged with six felonies, including two counts of child seduction, over an alleged inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old girl.

According to a news release from the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s office, the Mishawaka Police Department received a tip regarding 36-year-old SBPD officer Timothy Barber in early October, and the investigation was handed over to the special victims unit.

Barber was arrested Tuesday evening in Elkhart. He is also being charged with one count of public indecency, one count of public nudity and two counts of official misconduct. 

According to court documents, Barber met the 16-year-old at her workplace in July and asked for her phone number in uniform. He allegedly had sex with her two times in his squad car while in uniform, and also allegedly exposed himself to the girl two times while she was at work.

The girl’s parents later found communications with Barber on her phone and contacted police. When interviewed, she told police that she felt Barber was “obsessed” with her and felt pressure to have sex with him because he was a police officer.

She also told police that when she discussed her age with Barber, he allegedly said he looked it up “in the books” and discovered there was nothing wrong with him having sex with a 16-year-old.

In a post on its Facebook page, SBPD Chief Scott Ruszkowski said Barber was relieved of duty two weeks ago when the department learned of the allegations. At Ruszkowski's request, the South Bend Board of Public Safety placed Barber on administrative leave without pay Wednesday.

If Barber is found guilty, Ruszkowski said he will be fired.

“We will always be dedicated to protecting and serving our community and we take all crimes and allegations seriously; even those involving our officers,” Ruszkowski said in the post.

In the same Facebook post, Mayor James Muller called the allegations “disturbing” and said they have no place in SBPD or South Bend.

According to an old post on the SBPD's Twitter, Barber graduated from the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in May 2019 and was sworn in to the department the next month.

Barber will be arraigned Wednesday.

This story has been updated.

Contact Jakob at jlazzaro@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @JakobLazzaro.

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Jakob Lazzaro comes to Indiana from Chicago, where he graduated from Northwestern University in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and a double major in History. Before joining WVPE, he wrote NPR's Source of the Week e-mail newsletter, and previously worked for CalMatters, Pittsburgh's 90.5 WESA and North by Northwestern.