Athens County Sheriff Appeals Board's Decision To Reinstate Fired Deputy

By
Susan Tebben - Athens Messenger staff reporter

Dateline
Updated Fri, Feb 28, 2014 10:48 am
Photo Credit: 
Brooke Herbert Hayes
Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly

The Athens County Sheriff's Office has officially filed an appeal to a court-ordered reinstatement of a fired deputy.

The appeal was filed Feb. 26 with the Ohio State Personnel Board of Review in the case of Shannon Sheridan, who claimed he was unjustly fired.

Sheriff Patrick Kelly has maintained that the firing was handled appropriately and with proper reasoning behind the termination.

The board ruled, in a decision filed Feb. 13, that Sheridan be reinstated, but also be subject to a “Last Chance Agreement” when he returned to the sheriff’s office, meaning he would enter an agreement with the office about conditions of his employment and his behavior would be monitored.

The order came five months after Administrative Law Judge Christopher Young recommended that Sheridan be ordered suspended rather than terminated.

“While (Sheridan’s) behavior was certainly inappropriate, it did not amount to the level necessary to completely remove him from his position as a deputy sheriff ... “ Young decided.

Sheridan was fired in June 2012 on accusations of insubordination and sexual harassment. He appealed his termination to the board a week after his firing.

Kelly claimed Sheridan had been insubordinate to his superiors, specifically Capt. Bryan Cooper, had not properly processed evidence and had made sexually harassing and inappropriate comments to two female cadets.

These allegations are all listed as findings the board should have made when they ordered Sheridan reinstated, according to the appeal, written by attorney Matthew Baker.

Baker said the alleged changing story of Sheridan during the course of the investigation and the hearing prior to the administrative law judge making his recommendation show a lack of honesty that is necessary for law enforcement credibility.

"The sheriff has some serious concerns about returning (Sheridan) to work because of his dishonesty and the sexual harassment," Baker told The Messenger Thursday.

The requirement of a Last Chance Agreement was also called into question by Baker, writing in the appeal that the agreement "is a contract and is contrary to law."

"The board erred by failing to follow a well-defined and settled public policy of holding police officers to a higher standard," Baker concluded.

Now that the appeal has been filed, the transcript and documents involved in the case are required to be sent to the Athens County Common Pleas Court. Once all the documents are received by the courts, the sheriff's office will file a brief in regard to the appeal.

After the brief is filed, Sheridan will have 30 days to respond to the appeal.

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