Lakeland Police Department sex scandal: 10 officers are named in prosecutor report
Chris Trenkmann, wfts.com
9:25 AM, Jun 27, 2013
12:33 PM, Jun 27, 2013
LAKELAND, Fla. - Just days after a Lakeland police officer made national headlines for ordering a woman to shake out her bra during a traffic stop, the troubled department had to explain yet another scandal.
This time, a state attorney report showed that 10 officers were investigated for having forced and consensual sex with a 13-year civilian employee of the department during the last seven years.
"Are we disappointed? Absolutely. Are we upset at the nature and scope of some of the things that have happened? Yes," said Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields.
"But we still have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and work our way through it," Fields said.
The mayor said he was not considering the firing of Lakeland's Chief of Police, Lisa Womack, who has denied any knowledge of the sex scandal.
"Chief has my full confidence and support," said Fields.
Polk County State Attorney Jerry Hill did not have the same enthusiasm for department leadership as the mayor.
"Where we have a problem with police officers is when they lie," Hill said, suggesting that not all of the police who were investigated were up front about the allegations.
"I think you've got some folks over there that need to be sternly dealt with," Hill said. In particular, Chief Womack.
"It's kind of like my kid in sixth grade. If I want him to get out of a "D" school to go to an "A" school, I think I've got to remove the principal," Hill said.
None of the officers is facing criminal charges. Hill said the statute of limitations had expired on some of the accusations, or his investigation couldn't pinpoint exact dates of the alleged crimes.
An ongoing internal investigation could lead to suspensions or firings.
One of the officers in the report included police captain and public spokesman John Thomason. He was placed on administrative leave after allegedly photographing his genitals for the female victim.
Sergeant Rusty Lonaberber is on administrative leave, after the report detailed how he traveled to an Orlando training session to have sex with the woman.
Sergeant David Woolverton, also on administrative leave, is accused of raping the victim on a desk at the department's headquarters in Lakeland. Woolverton denied the charge, but admitted having consensual relations with the woman.
Lakeland Fire inspector David Bivens is detailed in the report as having sex with the victim multiple times at his office. He's been placed on administrative leave.
Lt. Al Wilson and Sergeant Brian McNabb were placed on modified duty until the findings of the ongoing internal investigation are revealed.
Meanwhile, Chief Womack said she is doing her best to maintain the integrity of the department despite the scandals.
"There is not a culture of corruption," Womack said.
"There is a culture of professionalism. And we are doing everything that we can, and each and every time something has been brought to my attention, it has been dealt with appropriately, as this will be too."