Former Georgia cop fired after sexual indiscretions loses congressional primary in Virginia

A former Georgia police officer who lost his state certification in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment and abuse of power has been defeated in his bid for Congress after those issues came to the public’s attention during the campaign.

On social media, Matthew Chappell accepted Saturday’s defeat in the Republican primary for Virginia’s 11th District. Chappell said that his campaign “could not fully rise above” what he calls “defamatory” stories outlining the events that led to him being fired from one Georgia law enforcement agency and resigning while under investigation in another. But, he said, he will “never give up,” and said he is considering running for the state legislature next year.

Chappell, who was one of five candidates vying for the party nomination in Virginia, lost in the third round of ranked-choice voting during Fairfax County’s local Republican convention held over the weekend.

During an all-day primary, Fairfax County voters ranked the candidates by preference on their ballots, eliminating them one at a time with multiple rounds of voting. Chappell received roughly 18% of votes during rounds one and two, the local GOP said. He received 21% of votes in the third round, falling behind Manga Anantatmula and Jim Myles, who went on to secure the nomination.

“I am proud of the campaign we ran, and I am not done,” Chappell wrote.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported details of Chappell’s misconduct in late April after obtaining public records showing that he had been stripped of his law enforcement certification and accused of following women home while on duty on two separate occasions. Chappell has denied the allegations.

ExploreFormer Georgia cop who had ‘a problem with females’ now running for Congress

The AJC’s investigation was reported on by news outlets in the Washington area and shared on social media. Chappell blamed the attention for damaging his congressional bid.

In 2016, Chappell resigned in lieu of termination from the Glynn County Police Department after he misused a state crime database and sexually harassed a woman who tended bar at a bowling alley where he had worked as an off-duty officer, according to an investigative report. The woman told investigators Chappell, who was married, had sent her vulgar text messages and had offered to send her photos of his genitals.

Chappell was on duty late at night in February 2016 and used his patrol car to follow the woman home from her job, an internal investigative report said. The woman said Chappell tried to touch her and asked her if he could come to her apartment with her and when she rebuffed him, he picked her up and kissed her on the neck. When she reported the incident months later, she told investigators that she had seen her car tag number on a computer screen inside of Chappell’s patrol car the night he followed her.

The Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council investigated Chappell’s actions and placed his state certification on two years probation in July 2017. He was hired by the McIntosh County Sheriff’s Office less than a year later in June 2018, but was fired from that department after about six months.

According to Chappell’s personnel file, the sheriff had issued him a warning after Chappell showed coworkers nude photos of himself and another female sheriff’s office employee having sex together with another woman. Chappell was reprimanded for posting inappropriate messages on social media that the sheriff found reflected poorly on the department. He allegedly contacted a female Glynn County police officer while on duty and extended an open invitation for her to have sex with him, records show.

Chappell was also linked to an episode where he was accused of following a woman home in his patrol car outside his jurisdiction in McIntosh County. Chappell was fired from the McIntosh sheriff’s office one day after a police report was filed in that incident, though the incident was not listed as the reason for his termination.

Chappell has staunchly denied the claims, saying both the investigative report and police report were “absolutely false allegations” against him.

“And they’re extremely defamatory,” Chappell previously told the AJC. “These kinds of allegations threatened to tear my family apart. It’s disgusting.”

Steve Knotts, the chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Party, said last week the allegations were “a fluid story,” according to the D.C.-based NBC affiliate, News 4 Washington.

“As Mr. Chappell denies the accusations and he does not appear to have faced any criminal prosecution, we’ll continue to remain neutral as a committee,” Knotts told the station.

Chappell on Monday issued a Tweet that said he’s discussing next steps with his family and campaign staff, and may run for a state House or Senate seat next year.