North Carolina’s Senior Polygrapher Charged with Assault

Jon Ostendorff reports for the Asheville Citizen-Times that the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations’ senior polygraph examiner, Special Agent Chris Smith, who supervises all the Bureau’s polygraphers, was arrested and charged with assault in August 2009. Smith is currently free on $200,000 bond:

SYLVA — The State Bureau of Investigation’s top polygraph agent is charged with assaulting a man suspected of molesting a child in Jackson County.

The SBI put Special Agent Chris Smith on administrative duty Sept. 8 while internal affairs investigators looked into allegations that he pushed Whittier resident Kenneth Rhinehart into a wall, a spokeswoman for the agency said Monday.

He remains on that assignment, which means he can’t participate in investigations.

His court date is scheduled for Dec. 1.

The agency gave its report on the incident to District Attorney Michael Bonfoey in October.

The state assigned Cleveland County District Attorney Rick Shaffer to handle the prosecution after Bonfoey recused his office because it has worked closely with Smith as a police witness in the past.

The allegation could have ramifications in other sex crimes cases in Jackson County, where Smith performed lie-detector tests.

He is the SBI’s polygraph coordinator, overseeing all of the state’s lie detector agents. He has been with the agency since 1997.

One defense attorney has asked the state for information about Smith’s credibility as a witness.

Another has asked the state to continue his client’s case, saying he is expecting investigative material on the interrogation of witnesses.

Smith did not immediately respond to a message left at his office in Asheville.

Rhinehart did not immediately respond to a message.

Rhinehart swore out the misdemeanor charge before Magistrate A.O. Reagan, who issued a criminal summons for Smith on Nov. 5.

The warrant alleges that Smith on April 23 assaulted Rhinehart by “grabbing (him) with his hands, pulling him out of a chair and pushing him into a wall.”

The court papers don’t say why the two men were together that day. Reagan declined to discuss the reason he issued the warrant.

Rhinehart is charged with first-degree sex offense on a girl younger than 13 between January 2006 and March 2008 who was living in his home at the time.

He was arrested in August and released on $200,000 bond.

Part of Smith’s duties, according to court papers, is to perform lie-detector exams on suspects for law enforcement agencies across the state.

Shaffer said he is reviewing the file and will either try the case or dismiss it.

Special Agent Chris Smith is also alleged to have told a suspect in another recent child molestation investigation that he had failed the polygraph, and to have proceeded with a harsh interrogation, whereas a later review found the outcome to be inconclusive. Charges against that suspect, Chris Hoover, were later dropped. But Hoover, who had been employed with the Macon County Sheriff’s Office was fired, evidently based on the results of that polygraph “test.” See Macon County News staff writer David Tell’s 1 October 2009 article, “Hoover speaks out: Never ‘failed’ lie detector test.”

Special Agent Smith is also alleged to have coerced a false confession from daycare operator Michael Bradley of Franklin, NC, who confessed to sexual penetration of a three-year old boy after “failing” a polygraph “test.” Bradley was found innocent of all charges at trial. See Macon County News staff writer Tony Wheeler’s 22 January 2009 article, “Not guilty: Jury finds Bradley innocent of sex crimes against toddler.”

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6 Comments

  1. I too once believed in the justice system until my dealings with the NC SBI. I was once a deputy sheriff and saw the wrongs done by this agency. My advice to anyone, and it’s free….never take a poloygraph….they make it say what they want…..trust me.

    1. If you think you’re going to get Justice through the SBI Chris Smith you’re going to be sorely disappointed like so many people are whoever you are I wish you the best cuz you’re going to need it if you have to deal with Chris Smith he’s a poor excuse for a SBI agent

    2. As far as mr. Reinhardt I feel bad for you having to deal with Chris Smith of the SBI office because I took a polygraph test and it also come up 99% inconclusive what about that?

  2. I was told that I would be able to get off police files if I exonerated myself
    with the polygraph test. I was also told my alternative was to be on a National Canadian suspect list, red flagged for the rest of my life possibly.
    It is really annoying to be told untruths..especially, and ironically, by a polygraph tester.
    I would be happy to connect with the anti polygraph movement because I almost did the polygraph.
    Luckily my research and my science background helped me make the informed decision that
    this is a fallible testing device. I truly wish there was a way to prove innocence. However there is just this method offered and it’s clearly unreliable.
    The Police Complaints Commission are looking into the coercive statements used by the police. Most shocking of all..this is Canada,not the USA, and this is going on.Very disappointing. I guess I was so naive to believe in police honesty and integrity.

  3. My name is Samuel Eugene Lancaster how was indicted on five sex charges I was told if I didn’t take a plea I would get natural light when I seen Chris Smither the SBI office he would push the court system to get me life all of the medical evidence out of for hospitals prove I was innocent after I’ve done for years I went back to court and they threw out the idea of me wearing a monitor the judge said I didn’t fit their criteria to wear a monitor my civil rights were violated I’ll Shepherd defamation of character and slander of my character I’ve been out of prison for 3 years with an absolutely perfect record all the medical evidence proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that I was not guilty there was no DNA there was no tearing or bleeding there was no sign of sexual assault no statements made by my granddaughter which was 3 years old I wish you talk to somebody have a nice day

  4. well what goes around comes around Chris Smith of the SBI office formally charged with assault he was put under a $200,000 Bond but later I guess his Good Buddies let him go cause the charges were dropped what an insult to the people of our community Chris Smith is supposed to represent Law and Order and justice what a disgraceful position to be in in his own jail good enough for somebody who would falsely accuse somebody with no proof when the United States Department of Justice here’s are some of their stories the justice department will take a hard look at what he’s really doing can’t wait to see how that goes I’ll wait!

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