The minor discipline a Broward jail deputy got for his relationship with a former inmate wasn't the most humiliating consequence of his actions — it was having his bosses see a nude photo of himself that he admittedly sent in a text to her.
Deputy Thomas Robitaille had been careful to crop his face from the photo, but the "sleeve" tattoo covering one of his arms gave him away.
Described by BSO as a "full frontal nude photograph of himself," the text message was found on a cellphone that had been owned by Lauren Anderson, a Broward jail inmate Robitaille met when she was behind bars. She sold the cellphone, and it ended up in the hands of another former jail inmate, who wasn't fond of Robitaille.
That inmate filed a complaint with BSO last year, saying the deputy was in an "active sexual relationship" with Anderson after meeting her at Paul Rein Detention Facility in Pompano Beach. She also complained about the way he treated female inmates, saying he was aggressive and yelled in their faces.
Robitaille was cleared of the most serious accusations against him in a recent internal investigation by theBroward Sheriff's Office, but was counseled for "conduct unbecoming an employee." The file was released to the Sun Sentinel this week.
Here's the policy BSO deputies must live by: "Since conduct of employees on or off duty may reflect directly on BSO, they should conduct themselves at all times in a manner which does no discredit themselves, BSO or the County."
BSO jail deputies aren't allowed to establish relationships with inmates in custody.
Anderson, a Coral Springs resident, has been a frequent inmate in Broward's jails, court records show, racking up years of arrests over such accusations as possession of cocaine, theft, battery, contempt of court, violating a restraining order and DUI.
But Robitaille and Anderson told BSO they didn't strike up their short-lived texting relationship until after she was released. They also said they didn't have a physical relationship, in jail or out. Anderson said she ran into him in the jail parking lot when she returned to the jail to pick up paperwork, and she gave him her phone number.
They sent text messages to each other and shared photographs for about a week and a half sometime in September or October 2010, Anderson told investigators. But she lost touch with him after that, she said, "because of his father passing away."
Anderson said he did take her phone number, after seeing her "cleaned up," but then he quickly found a way to cease contact.
"He stated that he did tell Anderson that his father had died," the investigative report recounts, "but that was a lie and that he only stated that because he lost interest in Anderson and it was a way to stop talking to her."
Staff researcher Barbara Hijek contributed to this report.