FARMINGTON — Up to eight women were harassed or sexually harassed at the Davis County Sheriff’s Office over a two-and-a-half-year period, resulting in disciplinary action against five male deputies last week, the county’s human resources director said Tuesday.
Resulting from a two-month human resources investigation, longtime Chief Deputy Sheriff Kevin Fielding was demoted to captain Friday, April 21, said Debra Alexander, who led the probe. She declined to identify the other four deputies because, as merit system employees, they are entitled to privacy protection until their due-process appeal times have expired.
However, the Standard-Examiner has confirmed with three people who have knowledge of the matter that Capt. Enrique Jaques was the second supervisory deputy disciplined. Jaques supervised the corrections division until January 2017, when he became investigations supervisor in the patrol division.
The two supervisors identified in the investigation did not harass or sexually harass anyone, but failed to adequately act upon policy violations by the other three, all of whom are corrections deputies, Alexander said.
“Supervisors are required to immediately report and address these types of issues, harassment or sexual harassment,” Alexander said, adding that there were multiple incidents of harassment.
The human resources investigation focused on violations of county policy and procedure, not any criminal conduct, Alexander said.
“We were approached by multiple employees from the corrections division with concerns about alleged policy violations,” she said. “The investigation focused on compliance with policies and procedures and complaints about harassment and sexual harassment and supervisory failure to address those issues.”
The HR office began its investigation Jan. 25 after hearing from “a multitude” of jail employees that objectionable conduct had not been dealt with appropriately in the sheriff’s office dating back to 2015, Alexander said.
The HR staff conducted about 45 interviews of everyone involved and reviewed 220 pages of notes and documents, Alexander said.
The investigation ended March 27 and the findings were presented to Sheriff Todd Richardson, who as an elected official is in command of all sheriff’s operations and holds disciplinary authority.
Paid-leave actions were made by the sheriff on Monday, April 16. Alexander said four deputies returned to duty later last week, but the fifth — one of the three corrections deputies — resigned from the sheriff’s office.
A sixth deputy who was implicated in the harassment investigation left county employment in November, according to Alexander. The Standard-Examiner has learned that the ex-deputy is now under investigation by the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Division.
Alexander said all of the alleged harassers are males and all the victims, an estimated seven or eight, are females. Some of the victims are sworn corrections officers and others are non-sworn jail staff members, she said.
Of the victims, a few have left the sheriff’s office. It is not known whether they resigned because of the harassment.
Alexander said none of the victims violated any policies, and those who remain on staff will receive protection against any retaliation.
The investigation turned up no evidence of any sexual harassment of jail inmates, Alexander said.
Detective Ty Berger, sheriff’s office spokesman, declined to comment Tuesday about the investigation or disciplinary actions, referring questions to Alexander.
The investigation is the latest in a series of black marks for the sheriff’s office over the past few years.
Six people died in the jail in 2016 — the most deaths in any county jail among the record 25 experienced statewide. The county faces two wrongful-death lawsuits, and Richardson said policies were tightened in the jail as a result of the wave of deaths.
A series of audits in 2016 and 2017 listed financial policy violations in the sheriff’s office, including a case of alleged time card fraud by Richardson. The county commission this year stripped the sheriff’s office of accounting duties, transferring those to the clerk-auditor’s office.
And on April 6 this year, sheriff’s business manager Keith Major was put on paid leave pending an audit of sheriff’s finances.