Umatilla County District Attorney Dean Gushwa is under a criminal investigation for a possible sex crime, but state officials are staying tight-lipped about the case.

Gushwa told the East Oregonian that he asked the Oregon Department of Justice to appoint someone to take his place during the investigation.

"I want the justice system to work," Gushwa said Thursday about 5 p.m. in a phone interview. "I put my faith in the justice system."

Gushwa said he sent the following e-mail to Sean J. Riddell of the DOJ at 3:45 p.m. Thursday:

"It has come to my attention that your office is engaged in an investigation of me. For the good of the county of Umatilla and the state of Oregon, I hereby request that during the tendency of your investigation that your agency appoint an office to serve in my stead. May your investigation reveal the truth."

The case began on Aug. 16 when Pendleton police took a report of a sex crime. Police Chief Stuart Roberts said his agency referred the case to the Department of Justice, which launched the criminal investigation.

Staff in the Umatilla County District Attorney's Office also had nothing to say about the investigation or how it has affected the people who work with Gushwa. Dan Primus, a senior deputy district attorney, said the only statement anyone could give was "No comment."

Gushwa has been serving in the office since Jan. 2, 2007. In 2008, Gushwa was elected district attorney, running unopposed. He has made prosecuting sex crimes a top priority of his office.

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