Investigator Had Sex With Woman Involved In Scandal

Annapolis Firefighter Reinstated

City Defends Probe

December 10, 1991|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff writer

An Annapolis firefighter, fired after being accused of lying about having sex on duty, was reinstated yesterday when the city attorney learned that the Fire Department investigator once had sex with a womaninvolved in the case.

In addition, testimony on Friday from a woman who disputed some of the city's charges prompted the city fire chief to call the investigation of firefighter Robert "Tommy" Thomas "seriously compromised."

Although City Attorney Jonathan A. Hodgson said the new information hasn't tainted the investigation that implicated four other firefighters and two police officers in a sex scandal, critics say it proves the 11-week probe was flawed from the start.

"This is one of themost unprofessional and unjust investigations that I have seen in mylife," said Lt. John Morgan, president of the firefighters union. "Iam glad part of it's over."

Carl Snowden, D-Ward 5, who has criticized the handling of the investigation, said the city should drop all remaining charges against firefighters. "The mayor should exercise leadership and get this scandal behind him," he said.

Fire Chief Edward P. Sherlock Jr. said the investigator, a city firefighter whom he declined to name, once had sex with the woman four or five years ago while off-duty.

He said the investigator told him Sunday night about his involvement with the woman, whom Sherlock called "central to these allegations."

Thomas' attorney, Samuel Brown, said he was pleased the charges were dropped, but he fought against a dismissal before he could present his case. He said he wanted the board to vindicate Thomas.

"This has disgraced the city of Annapolis," Brown told the five-member civil service board, which was hearing the appeal. "But there is no sex scandal here. It is unfortunate that because Thomas was with some people, he got dragged into this. And we will neverknow why."

Brown complained last Friday, the first day of the hearing, that the city's investigation was a sham because firefighters were threatened with termination if they didn't cooperate.

He said firefighters who admitted having sex on duty were suspended, while those who denied the allegations were fired. Brown said the city is nowtrying to make the investigator a scapegoat for a bungled investigation.

Thomas was one of three firefighters fired last month. Four others, including two police officers accused of having sex in their patrol cars, were suspended.

Hodgson said the entire investigation has not been compromised because of the new information. He said fourpublic safety officials -- two police officers and two firefighters -- already have admitted to on-duty sexual activity.

Battalion Chief James Jones, who city officials say knew about the misconduct but did nothing about it, has retired from the department. Lt. Kenny Rowe, who was fired, has filed an appeal with the civil service board. Lt. Eden Avery, who was suspended, also is appealing the ruling.

Hodgson said cases in which firefighters denied having sex on the job could be reviewed based on the new information.

Sherlock said he does not know if disciplinary action against the investigator will be pursued.

Thomas, who was fired because Sherlock said he lied when denying having on-duty sex, was immediately reinstated, with all seniority restored. He also will receive back pay from Nov. 21, when he wasfired.

Hodgson said at Friday's hearing that the names of many firefighters surfaced during the investigation, but only a few incidents could be corroborated. But Hodgson did not call any of the women involved to testify and would only say the sexual activity occurred four or five years ago.

Full details of the incidents have never beendisclosed by the city. Transcripts of interviews admitted into evidence on Friday by the civil service board have not been released.

Yesterday, the chairman of the board, James R. Renfroe, expunged the transcripts from the official record, a move that was questioned by the state attorney general's office.

"It seems to me that, once evidence is introduced at a public hearing without any attempt to preserve its confidentiality, it becomes a matter of public record," said Jack Schwartz, chief counsel for opinions. "It is not possible to go back and pretend that those events never happened."

Thomas, 36, a 15-year veteran, was accused of twice having sex with an Annapolis woman four or five years ago, once in the back of an ambulance.

His attorney said after the hearing that he knew of the investigator's involvement with one of the women and said he told the investigator he planned to make it public at yesterday's hearing.

Brown said the investigator then went to the fire chief.

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