New details on background of former Southeast Mo. State DPS officer facing child molestation charges
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - A former officer with the Department of Public Safety at Southeast Missouri State University is facing child molestation charges.
Police arrested 36-year-old John Reyna, of Jackson, on Tuesday, January 11.
He was charged with two felony counts of child molestation and a third felony count of sodomy.
Court records indicate the victim is under the age of 12.
We’re learning more about Reyna and the discipline he faced when the University hired him.
Reyna spent five years at the Jackson Police Department before he was hired by Southeast Missouri State University. However, the circumstances surrounding why he left raise serious questions about how he ended up serving on the Southeast campus.
Southeast terminated Reyna’s employment late Wednesday after the Cape Girardeau County prosecutor charged the 37 year old with child molestation and sodomy.
We now know when the University hired Reyna, he faced disciplinary action for his conduct while serving the City of Jackson.
Court records show the Missouri Department of Public Safety petitioned to discipline Reyna in August 2017.
According to the complaint, he solicited sex from an 18 year old female in the summer of 2016 while on duty and in uniform.
Jackson Police Chief James Humphreys said they quickly opened an internal investigation against Reyna and made him aware of the complaint.
Humphreys said Reyna opted to resign.
The Jackson Police Department then notified the state that Reyna resigned for conduct unbecoming an officer. The results of that Jackson investigation then went to Jefferson City and sparked the state DPS complaint.
In late November 2017, the state’s Administrative Hearing Commission ruled Reyna should be disciplined.
We reached out to Southeast Missouri State’s Chief of Staff, Chris Martin, to ask why the University hired Reyna, and what leaders there knew about his past.
Martin said in an email that when they hired Reyna in September 2017, they did not know his license was under investigation.
He then acknowledged Reyna’s license got suspended for a year, and the University moved him to a non-commissioned job on campus.
When that suspension lifted, Reyna returned to DPS as a full-time officer.
The full statement from the University reads:
“The University is greatly troubled by the allegations and charges brought against Mr. John Reyna. When he was hired as a University Police Officer in Sept. 2017, the University did a background investigation, as it does for all new officers, and was unaware of any investigation with regard to his license.
“In Feb. 2018, the University learned of a Missouri Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission hearing concerning Mr. Reyna’s peace officer’s license. The result of the hearing was a one-year suspension of his license. As a result, he was removed from duty as a University Police Officer and transitioned to a non-commissioned civilian position supporting building security and transit services where he cleaned transit shuttles, worked dispatch, and unlocked/locked academic and administrative buildings.
“When Mr. Reyna’s one-year POST license suspension was over and reinstated in Feb. 2019, he returned as a commissioned police officer, a position he held until his university commission was revoked and he was terminated by the University on Jan. 12, 2022. Once charges were filed, the University initiated an internal investigation into Mr. Reyna’s time at the University, which is standard procedure.
“Given the confidential nature of personnel records and out of respect for the prosecution in the on-going case against him the University will continue to cooperate with local and state law enforcement agencies, the Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney, and the POST Commission regarding the serious charges against Mr. Reyna.”
What we don’t know, and what Martin did not say, was if the University knew the nature of the complaint against Reyna before allowing him at any time to serve the students and staff on the Cape Girardeau campus.
Reyna remains behind bars in Perry County on a $250,000 bond.
Copyright 2022 KFVS. All rights reserved.