Reinstated Deputy Fired Again

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Seven months after an Athens County Sheriff’s Office deputy was reinstated upon winning an appeal of his termination, that deputy has again been terminated.

Deputy Shannon Sheridan was fired on Monday after an investigation done by the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office and a pre-disciplinary hearing conducted by a local law firm showed he had violated policy of the Athens County Sheriff’s Office in 19 different ways.

The termination was effective as of Monday, according to Interim Sheriff Rodney Smith.

“We set a certain standard here at the sheriff’s office, and it wasn’t followed in this case,” Smith said.

Sheridan was placed on leave in August after an investigation began into a woman’s claim that Sheridan had “conducted himself in an unprofessional and inappropriate manner,” according to the findings of the pre-disciplinary hearing, overseen by Gerald A. Mollica.

According to documents obtained by The Messenger through a public records request, the woman filed the complaint after Sheridan responded to an unrelated incident on Aug. 28 at the Happy Valley Trailer Court.

The woman claimed that Sheridan had touched her in a “flirtatious” way, according to public records request documents and that he had made unprofessional comments that made her “uncomfortable.”

The investigation done by the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office included questioning of Sheridan, the woman, her husband and another witness, along with “truth analysis” of statements made by the people involved.

In one of the main allegations against Sheridan, the woman claimed Sheridan inquired about her nose ring, saying “well, you know, if you have a Mercedes or a Jaguar you don’t have to customize it,” according to a transcript of the woman’s statements.

Sheridan denied the allegation, in part, when he spoke to investigators.

“I never said, I never said Jaguar,” Sheridan said, according to the transcript. “I said Mercedes or BMW is what I said.”

Sheridan told investigators the comment was made because “her husband deals in cars.”

In a follow up interview, the woman’s husband said he does not work on or restore cars, as Sheridan had said.

The woman later told investigators that “…that is the most uncomfortable I’ve (ever) felt with an officer, around an officer…nobody has ever made me feel like that.”

Mollica said the decision of the pre-disciplinary hearing was made without regard to the Mercedes comment.

“This statement was totally improper regardless of the type of car he referenced her to,” Mollica wrote.

Truth analysis tests were done on the woman and the test found that the woman was being truthful. The decision of the pre-disciplinary hearing, however, also did not take into account the analyses.

Investigators, and in turn the hearing officer at the pre-disciplinary hearing, said Sheridan violated the mission statement of the Athens County Sheriff’s Office, the Canons of Police Ethics, Athens County Sheriff’s Office’s General Orders involving lying, Athens County Sheriff’s Office law enforcement policies and procedures and a Last Chance Agreement set in place when he was reinstated.

The Last Chance Agreement was reportedly unsigned, according to documents related to the pre-disciplinary hearing, but had come after a recommendation by the Ohio State Personnel Board of Review that he be reinstated after his original termination by now-suspended Sheriff Patrick Kelly.

Mollica wrote that the sheriff could discipline Sheridan “up to and including discharge from employment.”

No criminal charges were filed against Sheridan, according to Smith.

Kelly terminated Sheridan in 2012 after accusations of insubordination and sexual harassment were leveled against him, according to previous Messenger reporting.

Sheridan appealed his termination to the board and the board agreed with a recommendation by an administrative law judge that Sheridan be reinstated. The sheriff’s office had been appealing the decision, but when Smith came in after Kelly’s suspension on criminal charges, the interim sheriff decided to negotiate with Sheridan. The appeals process is still ongoing, according to documents filed in Athens County Common Pleas Court.

Sheridan returned to work in May and probationary deputy Sam Disaia was fired to make room for him. Disaia has since returned as a deputy.