Friday, June 16, 2017

Fourth Circuit State's Attorney Melissa Nelson fires former Clay County sheriff after probe into alleged misconduct (T-U)

Thanks and praise to Duval, Clay and Nassau County State's Attorney Melissa Nelson for firing disgraceful ex-Sheriff SCOTT LANCASTER of Clay County for sexual harassment. Corporate and government managers in Northeast Florida need to learn respect for women -- lawsuits need to be filed and verdicts rendered to the fullest extent of the law. Earlier,
I filed an Open Records request to learn more. But here's the latest from the Jacksonville Florida Times-Union. This is what St. Augustine Beach should have done with triple-dipping building officer GARY RAYMOND LARSON in October 2013, instead of letting the victim suffer in a hostile working environment, 2013-2017.

Posted June 16, 2017 04:32 pm
By Andrew Pantazi & Garrett Pelican
The Times-Union
Former Clay Sheriff Scott Lancaster fired from State Attorney’s Office over sexual harassment complaint

Scott Lancaster (Florida Times-Union/file)
New details emerged Friday about State Attorney Melissa Nelson’s dismissal late last month of investigator and former Clay County Sheriff Scott Lancaster.

Nelson fired Lancaster after he became the subject of a sexual harassment complaint on May 8 filed by a coworker, according to an internal memo summarizing the investigation into his conduct.

Nelson had defended hiring Lancaster just four months ago, saying she had “complete confidence” in him despite a 10-year-old grand jury report that called him an embarrassment to the citizens of Clay County because he had used a county credit card for personal benefit.

Lancaster didn’t answer phone calls Friday, and Nelson has not yet responded to questions.

The 144-page memo led Nelson to dismiss Lancaster on May 31. Lancaster, who was hired in February and was earning a $60,000 a year salary, was suspended after the allegations surfaced.

The memo said a woman reported that Lancaster had greeted her on at least two occasions with “something to the effect of ‘good morning, gorgeous’ or ‘good morning, beautiful.’” Then he asked her on the phone if she was “covered up,” which she interpreted as a question about if she was clothed. That phone conversation was on speaker phone and witnessed by someone else. Later, she reported, he asked her to meet with him because “he heard how nice she looked today, and he wanted to see for himself.”

A co-worker reported that the woman appeared flustered afterward and even wondered, “What am I supposed to wear to work?”

Prosecutor Stephen Siegel confronted Lancaster with the allegations and told him that if he resigned, the investigation would end. Lancaster said he wouldn’t resign.

He was suspended on May 11, pending the results of the investigation.

“Having reviewed the allegations of misconduct and a memorandum of the investigation conducted I am taking this action,” Nelson wrote in a termination letter.

Lancaster responded with a resignation letter disputing what he characterized as “frivolous” allegations but acknowledged they would nonetheless impair his job performance and the work of the State Attorney’s Office going forward.

“While I strongly believe I have violated no policy in my actions or communications, and have sought to assist you in reforming your office, it is clear that the frivolous accusations made against me are and will continue to be a distraction to the mission of the State Attorney, and will interfere with my abilities to perform the responsibilities of my position,” he stated.

Lancaster came from a powerful family in Clay County politics and was first elected sheriff in 1992. He lost his third re-election bid in 2004 after a grand jury investigation concluded that he had embarrassed the citizens of the county with his improper use of a county-issued credit card, buying alcohol and underwear and plane tickets. The grand jury declined to indict him because he made “sporadic efforts” to pay back the charges and he did not conceal the purchases.

After leaving office, Lancaster went to work for St. Johns River State College as the school’s director of criminal justice training, a role he held until 2009.

After Nelson hired Lancaster in February, her spokesman said that the former sheriff was hired to be a “senior, experienced voice on investigations” and that Nelson had “complete confidence in his abilities.”; (904) 359-4310; (904) 359-4385

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