Former lawman, 2016 Sheriff candidate arrested on sexual assault charges

Posted 4/8/20

Texas Rangers arrested former Madison County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Detective and 2016 Madison County Sheriff candidate Ivan Linebaugh March 31 for a 20-year-old Aggravated Sexual Assault charge.

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Former lawman, 2016 Sheriff candidate arrested on sexual assault charges

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Texas Rangers arrested former Madison County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Detective and 2016 Madison County Sheriff candidate Ivan Linebaugh March 31 for a 20-year-old Aggravated Sexual Assault charge.

The arrest stems from an April 25, 2000 traffic stop performed by Linebaugh, in which he allegedly forced the victim to perform a sexual act on him in lieu of going to jail. The incident was said to have occurred at 11 p.m. on Interstate 45 near Madisonville.

Linebaugh, a Bedias resident, was arrested without incident at his place of employment around 11 a.m. March 31, according to a press release from the Texas Department of Public Safety. He was taken to the Madison County Jail on the first-degree felony offense.

Rangers launched an investigation into the allegations and collected 20-year-old DNA evidence from the complainant’s clothing, which was submitted to the DPS Crime Laboratory in Austin.

The case was reopened in 2017. Rangers, with the help of the Federal Bureau of Investigation officials, investigated multiple leads and conducted the DNA genealogy research that led to Linebaugh’s arrest.

Linebaugh ran against Travis Neeley and Jim Jackson in the county’s 2016 Sheriff election. All three men were considered for the position in 2011 when former Sheriff, Dan Douget, retired for health reasons. The Commissioner’s Court selected Neely, as did the voters of Madison County, when he ran against Linebaugh and Jackson in 2016.

Among other cases, Linebaugh investigated a high-profile 2008 murder case in Madison County, in which the original “witness”, Tiffany Denise Bennett, was ultimately sentenced to 35 years in prison for the murder of Nicholas Simpson in the first degree in 2010.

Bennett called MCSO the day after Simpson was gunned down on the porch of his Mathis Meadows residence in August of 2008. She told deputies at the time that she was forced to participate in stealing Simpson’s car after Jerry Allen White-Smith of Conroe killed Simpson.

She led the authorities to the town of Phelps that Saturday, where Simpson's Jaguar was recovered, and told deputies she was unable to get away from White-Smith until that morning.

Linebaugh ultimately rejected Bennett’s version of the story and arrested her, along with White-Smith, for capital murder.

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