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Staff on Leave After Sheriff Indicted

State

Clay County Sheriff car | Image by Flickr

A sheriff’s office near Wichita Falls is steeped in controversy as its sheriff was indicted and the staff involved in the proceedings against him have been officially excused from duty.

Four Clay County employees have been put on paid administrative leave due to their involvement in a recent criminal case against Sheriff Jeff Lyde, Captain Randy J. Hanson told the press on January 19.

The letter from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) outlines the decision, explaining that it is meant to ensure that Lyde is able to perform his duties as sheriff while abiding by the conditions of his $15,000 bond for criminal charges as well as a temporary restraining order prohibiting retaliatory action against the complainants.

The move to place the CCSO staff on paid administrative leave was in line with recommendations given to Lyde by the Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA) after he solicited them for legal advice. According to Randall D. Moore, TMPA lawyer, this is common practice when employees allege an adverse or hostile work environment.

According to indictments filed on Thursday, December 29, 2022, Lyde faces two charges of “sexual harassment by verbal conduct of a sexual nature” and one charge of “sexual harassment by physical conduct of a sexual nature,” as well as three charges of official oppression in connection with these allegations.

These charges add to several other accusations of misconduct involving Lyde since he became sheriff in 2021, including an alleged Fourth Amendment violation and two counts of official oppression.

Lyde is most recently being accused of slapping a female employee on the buttocks, sexually harassing a female employee by calling her “Star Trek” and telling her he “wanted to go where no other man had ever gone,” and discussing the breasts of multiple CCSO employees as well as showing pictures of breasts on his computer, according to copies of the indictments obtained by KFDX.

Attorney Frank Douthitt filed a petition with 97th District Judge Jack McGaughey to remove Lyde from office on January 3, which was followed by the granting of a restraining order to protect the four CCSO employees from retaliation.

A hearing had been scheduled for Tuesday to decide whether Lyde should be removed from office; however, it has been postponed for two weeks after Moore filed a motion to remove Judge McGaughey due to concerns over his impartiality.

While the motion is being handled by the court, Lyde is still acting sheriff. However, according to Lyde’s bond conditions, he cannot have any contact with the three women who have accused him of sexual harassment; hence the decision to place those involved in the indictments on paid administrative leave. 

There is no end date provided for the CCSO employees’ leave, yet their rankings, pay, and evaluations will not be negatively affected. They had to turn in county vehicles, were told to not conduct county business, and must stay in regular contact with Capt. Hanson. 

Dallas faces high numbers of sexual assault and related cases in the first month of the year. There were 26 sex offenses reported in the first two and a half weeks of 2023. These current numbers indicate that the crime spree that swept across the metroplex last year has not abated as city council members strategize to improve public safety.

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Ken
Ken
6 days ago

Why aren’t the Texas Rangers investigating this?

Lay Monk Jeffery
Lay Monk Jeffery
6 days ago

There is no room for this kind of conduct anywhere. This world is turning upside down and things like this are happening way too often. Respect for fellow man/woman is deteriorating at a rapid pace and it seems as if we’re are heading for a society of lost souls.

Djea3
Djea3
6 days ago

THIS MAKES NO SENSE. Place four employees in forced leave instead of the Sheriff? I am POSITIVE that the Sheriff’s salary is less than 4 employees and that the County as a succession system for Sheriff. Better to place the Sheriff on administrative leave OR remove him from DIRECT management and allow him to manage from a remote office and not have direct contact with the four involved.

This would SERVE THE PEOPLE and COUNTY much better. After all there are ONLY 14 officers. That means the County is now down 28% in its officers! INSANE!

The County Commissioners need to REVERSE this decision IMMEDIATELY and do the right thing for the PEOPLE and COUNTY.

Djea3
Djea3
6 days ago

Texas Statute 87.011 allows for temporary removal of Sheriff and appointment of Temporary replacement pending result of charges related to misconduct in office.

The County is losing 24% of its Sheriff’s officers by placing 4 on leave. Better to place the Sheriff on leave until this is over. Saves the taxpayers a LOT of money and maintains the ability of the department to do its duty.