Lawyer Details Walk-Away Project

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Lawyer Details Walk-Away Project
by Dennis Reeves Cooper
April 3, 2008

Information continued to seep out of City Hall this week to help flesh out the sex scandal story that resulted in the abrupt resignation of Police Chief Bill Mauldin last Tuesday. A one‐page investigative report prepared by City Attorney Shawn Smith and City Human Resources Director Sandy Gilbert sent to City Manager Jim Scholl on Tuesday revealed that Smith and Gilbert conducted four interviews in the course of their investigation into allegations by Christie Phillips, the City’s Communications Manager, that Mauldin repeatedly sexually harassed her.

More than one source has told Key West The Newspaper that Mauldin’s contact with Phillips may have risen to the level of sexual battery. “On March 25, 2008, we met with the victim, who provided details of the accusations,” Smith and Gilbert wrote. “Upon questioning, she revealed four to five specific encounters of alleged Sexual harassment in a variety of forms by the Chief.” According to the report, the incidents occurred between September and November 2006. The report did not address why Phillips waited more than a year to complain. Interviews were then conducted with “two individuals who reportedly witnessed the demeanor and were told information by the victim shortly after the incidents.”

Smith and Gilbert told Scholl that the witnesses’ statements were “consistent with the accounts provided by the victim.” Then, Smith and Gilbert interviewed Mauldin and, according to their report, he denied any improper conduct. But he resigned the same day the Smith‐Gilbert report was delivered to City Manager Scholl. In a letter to City Attorney Smith, Attorney Jerome Ballarotto, representing Mauldin, outlined the terms of Mauldin’s resignation. In essence, Mauldin will be compensated only for his accrued annual leave and sick leave and his contributions to his retirement plan will be refunded. City Officials also allowed Mauldin to resign voluntarily, rather than be fired. They also agreed to continue to fully indemnify him and represent him in “all litigation that arose in the scope of the performance of his duties as the Chief of Police for the City of Key West.” Mauldin is currently a defendant in at least two lawsuits, along with the City.

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