Restraining order obtained to seal recent Internal Affairs investigative record of former S.C.S.O. Capt. David Gibson

The Internal Affairs investigative record involving allegations against former Spalding County Sheriff's Office Captain David Gibson have been sealed by a temporary restraining order. Gibson retired in lieu of termination in the midst of the investigation involving allegations of sexual harassment, creating a hostile work environment, improper use of the Internet, conduct unbecoming a deputy and violation of his oath of office.

The Internal Affairs investigative record involving allegations against former Spalding County Sheriff’s Office Captain David Gibson have been sealed by a temporary restraining order. Gibson retired in lieu of termination in the midst of the investigation involving allegations of sexual harassment, creating a hostile work environment, improper use of the Internet, conduct unbecoming a deputy and violation of his oath of office.

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

The Internal Affairs investigation of the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office that resulted in former Capt. David Gibson’s retirement in lieu of termination has been sealed by Superior Court Judge Mack Crawford, of the Griffin Judicial Circuit.
Upon receiving an Open Records request for this investigative record submitted by The Grip June 15, the Sheriff’s Office stated, “In response to your Open Records request received by the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office, Superior Court Judge Robert M. Crawford signed a temporary restraining order on 06-15-15 prohibiting the release of an internal investigation concerning former Captain David Gibson of the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office till further order of the judge.”
The restraining order was requested by Johnnie Caldwell, who is representing Ruby King, Sheriff Wendell Beam’s secretary. Caldwell on June 15 filed a petition for declaratory judgment in response to an Open Records request submitted June 11 by Will Sanders.
In his petition, Caldwell stated, “This is an action for a temporary restraining order pursuant to OCGA 9-5-1 in that petitioner has no adequate remedy at law and a failure to issue the same would cause the petitioner irreputable harm and an action for a declaratory judgment pursuant to OCGA 9-4-1 to declare the rights and other legal questions surrounding an actual controversy that exists between petitioner and respondents. This action is also brought pursuant to OCGA 50-18-70 et al, wherein, a court order is being sought regarding the interpretation of whether certain records held by respondent Beam should be made available to respondent Sanders.”
Caldwell went on to allege that “a controversy of a judicial nature presently exist between the parties as to certain records of respondent Beam that includes personal information of petitioner Ruby King and others similarly situated as employees of respondent Beam.”
At the core of the issue is an Internal Affairs investigation that was conducted involving allegations of sexual harassment, creating a hostile work environment, improper use of the Internet, conduct unbecoming a deputy and violation of his oath of office.
On May 21, in the midst of this investigation, Gibson retired in lieu of termination.
In his petition, Caldwell addressed this investigation by alleging his client is one of Gibson’s victims.
“7. In May of 2015 a complaint of sexual harassment and hostile work environment was lodged against Captain David Gibson an employee of respondent Beam. The complaint alleged that Gibson had made sexually explicit statements to certain female employees, to include petitioner (King),of respondent Beam. Said allegation also stated that Gibson in his capacity as a supervisor in the Sheriff’s Office had created a hostile work environment for those employees. After the complaint was lodged against Gibson many female and male employees of the Sheriff’s Office were questioned by investigators of the Sheriff’s Office while conducting an Internal Affairs investigation concerning the allegations against Gibson.
8. As a result of said investigation the report contains confidential information which was received from the petitioner and other employees,” Caldwell stated in his petition to Spalding County Superior Court.
In a subsequent interview, The Grip cited a provision in Georgia’s Open Records Act that allows records to be withheld until ten days following the completion of investigation, Caldwell stated, “I’m not seeking to have it permanently sealed. I’m seeking to have it sealed until the District Attorney’s Office decides if it’s going to be released or prosecuted.”
When reminded again that the Open Records Act already prevents that, Caldwell stated, “And hopefully I can get it (the investigative record) redacted on behalf of some of the people out there.”
The Grip maintained that to do so violates both the spirit and the letter of the Open Records Act.
“I don’t know. That’s up to the judge. I have no idea,” he said. “That’s up to you newspaper people to determine.”
In his petition, Caldwell also cited the Open Records Act found in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) 15-18-72, stating, “11. OCGA 15-18-72 states that public disclosure shall not be requested for records that are: a: (a) (4) Records of law enforcement, prosecution or regulatory agencies on pending investigations of criminal or unlawful activity.”
However, that subsection of the Open Records Act states in its entirety, “(a) Public disclosure shall not be required for records that are: (4) Records of law enforcement, prosecution or regulatory agencies in any pending investigation or prosecution of criminal or unlawful activity, other than initial police arrest reports and initial incident reports; provided, however, that an investigation or prosecution shall no longer be deemed to be pending when all direct litigation involving such investigation and prosecution has become final or otherwise terminated; and provided, further, that this paragraph shall not apply to records in the prosecution of an agency that is the subject of the pending investigation or prosecution.”
Caldwell’s petition also alleges his client, King, along with other employees of the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office have 180 in which to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission if they so desire, and that for Beam “to release petitioner (King) and others statements could be considered retaliation by the Sheriff.”
After receiving multiple Open Records requests from The Grip, Beam reached out to explain his current status.
“I received a temporary restraining order from the judge restricting us from releasing it and I just didn’t want there to be a misunderstanding,” Beam said. “I hope the judge will make a ruling in the near future and of course we’ll abide by that.”
Will Sanders, the private resident who was named as a petitioner along with Beam, said he is shocked at the turn of events.
“I never imagined a simple Freedom of Information Act request into the investigation of David Gibson would end up with a restraining order,” he said. “If they have their way I guess we will never know what really happened. Typical double standard with typical politics are in play. The citizens of Spalding County deserve better than this.”

Publisher’s note – After learning a temporary restraining order had been issued for the Internal Affairs investigative record, The Grip submitted a series of related Open Records requests.
One was issued to the Houston County Sheriff’s Office, the agency that conducted the investigation on behalf of the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office. As it was not named as a respondent in Caldwell’s petition for declaratory judgment, that agency’s investigative record was requested June 16. By law, a response was required within three days. The Grip has received none as of press time and will be following up by filing a formal complaint to the Georgia Attorney General’s Office.
Numerous additional Open Records requests pertaining to this matter have been submitted to the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office among others agencies and The Grip continue to cover this story as additional information becomes available.

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Comments

  1. Thomas Thurston says:

    “conducted involving allegations of sexual harassment, creating a hostile work environment, improper use of the Internet, conduct unbecoming a deputy and violation of his oath of office.”
    And Caldwell as the lawyer. Anybody else see the irony in all this?

  2. Philip McCoy says:

    I hope you pursue this to the end. If allowed to be it will be sweep under the carpet. The sheriffs dept will do everything in its power to make sure of it. If he is guilty of the charges violation of oath of office is a felony.You have my support and the support of others

  3. Robert Hayden, DC, PhD, FICC says:

    OK…we have GOT to do lunch. Maybe outside Griffin? Are you safe?

    Robert A. Hayden, DC, PhD, FICC Sent from my iPhone

    >

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