I-Team: Police officer accused of inappropriate relationship

North Smithfield Patrolman Eric Rondeau is in the middle of a Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights hearing, accused of starting a sexual relationship with a woman, who at the time, was in police custody.

The NBC 10 I-Team has learned the two met in August when the officer cited the 23-year-old woman and her then-boyfriend for riding ATVs in a town sand pit.

Later that night, police responded to a domestic call at the couple's home on Mattity Road. A police report obtained by the I-Team describes the scene of a young woman out of control, allegedly drunk. Glass was broken and chairs were thrown. Police arrested 23-year-old Kathryn Shinton on a domestic disorderly charge.

The I-Team has learned while she was in a police cell, Rondeau slipped his personal phone number into Shinton's confiscated wallet. Sources tell the I-Team she later called him and the two began a sexual affair, exchanging some 95 sexually explicit text messages and nude photos. The officer is married.

A complaint was lodged against the patrolman for acting inappropriately and crossing a line some feel he shouldn't have crossed with a suspect.

Rondeau is off the job, suspended with pay, since November while he undergoes a Bill of Rights hearing. That private hearing has begun and a witness has testified, according to sources.

Rondeau faces 12 administrative charges, including conduct unbecoming of an officer. If he's found guilty, the young patrolman could lose his job, which according to the town's latest contract, pays him $49,952 a year.

The Bill of Rights hearing is decided by a three-member panel. In Rondeau's case, his representative is a Middletown police lieutenant. North Smithfield's representative is a Rhode Island State Police lieutenant. The neutral third member, who is the hearing chairman, is a Narragansett police lieutenant.

North Smithfield Police Chief Steven Reynolds had no comment. Attempts to reach Rondeau were unsuccessful.