courtesy of DCSO

South Fork SRO Charged with Statutory Rape

Pilkington was arrested by Missouri State Highway Patrol at approximately 7:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving night, November 25.

The Howell County Sheriff’s Office and the West Plains School District released separate statements this afternoon informing parents and the community that the School Resource Officer (SRO) at South Fork Elementary has been arrested and charged with sex crimes. Formal charges of statutory sodomy and deviant sexual activity with a child less than 14 years of age have been filed, confirms Howell County Sheriff Brent Campbell.

The former officer in question is Rob Pilkington. As reported by the West Plains Daily Quill, Pilkington was hired as the SRO at South Fork Elementary in August of 2014. The R-VII School District published a story on their website about the new hire at that time, pointing out that the officer was contracted for services through the Sheriff’s Office and that his hire was approved by the School Board. 

Pilkington has more than 25 years of experience in law enforcement, said Sheriff Campbell in an interview. 

Howell County Sheriff’s Office learned of the allegations from the accused himself, Sheriff Campbell told Howell County News. Pilkington called the Sheriff directly. Sheriff Campbell sent Lt. Torey Thompson to investigate, and as a result of this initial investigation, the matter was turned over to the Missouri Department of Social Service and the Missouri State Highway Patrol. 

Pilkington was arrested by Missouri State Highway Patrol at approximately 7:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving night, November 25. His arrest took place approximately 21 hours after the Sheriff's office first learned of the allegations.

The statement from the school district confirms the victim was not a student of South Fork Elementary.

“This incident allegedly occurred recently, outside the workday, and did not involve a South Fork student,” reads the email sent to parents at 2:00 p.m. this afternoon. 

The Sheriff’s statement reveals that the accused has been terminated from the Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Campbell promised an internal investigation, “to discover any potential points of failure in order to mitigate such matters.”

In an interview this afternoon, Sheriff Campbell said he intends to be “as transparent as possible” as the investigation unfolds. 

“As your Sheriff, I have been bestowed the greatest honor, which is to lead in the service and protection of our community with integrity and transparency that will continue with a forged trust,” he said in this afternoon’s statement. 

Pilkington remains in custody at the time of this report. His bond is $100,000 cash or surety. 


Updated at 6:13 p.m. with additional details of the timeline of the arrest. --- Updated 11/27 at 11:38 a.m. A previous version of this story erroneously stated that R-VII confirmed the victim was a student.
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