St. Louis County police officer charged with sexual assault in Madison County

A St. Louis County police officer has been charged with criminal sexual assault in connection with a rape reported by a woman in Edwardsville, authorities said.

Gavin M. Potthast, 25, was charged Thursday and is being held in the Madison County Jail pending a detention hearing set for Tuesday, according to the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Potthast was placed on unpaid administrative leave Friday, St. Louis County Police Col. Kenneth Gregory said in a statement.

Court records state the victim told investigators that she and Potthast had just broken up and that while she was at a residence they previously shared, she was sexually assaulted on Sept. 23 after she had refused his advances multiple times.

Potthast is being represented by Belleville attorney Justin A. Kuehn, according to court records. Kuehn could not be reached for comment Friday.

The state’s attorney’s office has filed a motion asking a judge to keep Potthast in jail until his trial.

“We are disturbed by the allegations made regarding our officer’s behavior,” Gregory said in a statement. “We take any allegation seriously and are cooperating fully with Edwardsville Police Department’s investigation. We are also conducting a thorough internal investigation. The involved officer has been placed on unpaid administrative leave. We hold our staff to a high level of integrity and expect them to treat every member of our community with dignity and respect.”

Potthast was hired by the St. Louis County Police Department on Dec. 30, 2021.