For­mer Howard sher­iff says he needs to ‘heal and move on’

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - By Pamela Wood pwood@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/pwoodreporter

For­mer Howard County Sher­iff James F. Fitzger­ald, who re­signed last week fol­low­ing ac­cu­sa­tions that he dis­crim­i­nated and re­tal­i­ated against em­ploy­ees, said Wed­nes­day he’s mov­ing on from the con­tro­versy.

Fitzger­ald did not di­rectly ad­dress the ac­cu­sa­tions de­tailed in a scathing re­port from Howard County’s Of­fice of Hu­man Rights.

“With a res­o­lu­tion agreed upon by all in­volved, it is now time to close this chap­ter,” he said in a state­ment Wed­nes­day. “My fam­ily and I need to heal and move on with our lives.”

Fitzger­ald, a Demo­crat first elected sher­iff in 2006, said he had re­ceived “count­less emails and texts of sup­port over the last few weeks. It has put tears in my eyes.”

He said he would not speak with re­porters, be­cause “me­dia in­ter­views will only en­cour­age this story to con­tinue.”

The county Of­fice of Hu­man Rights, which in­ves­ti­gated a com­plaint brought by a lieu­tenant in the sher­iff’s of­fice, said it had found “rea­son­able cause” to believe that Fitzger­ald re­tal­i­ated against him by ma­nip­u­lat­ing his work sched­ules and as­sign­ments be­cause the lieu­tenant did not sup­port the sher­iff’s re-elec­tion cam­paign.

Hu­man rights in­ves­ti­ga­tors de­tailed ac­cu­sa­tions that Fitzger­ald re­tal­i­ated against oth­ers who didn’t sup­port his cam­paign, sys­tem­at­i­cally pro­moted his sup­port­ers and used vul­gar and racist lan­guage. He was al­leged to have called for­mer County Ex­ec­u­tive Ken Ul­man “lit­tle Kenny Jew­boy” and say­ing that African-Amer­i­can deputies “are not too smart, but they get the job done.”

Fitzger­ald, who was serv­ing his third term as elected sher­iff, agreed to step down last week as of­fi­cials of both par­ties re­searched ways to re­move him from of­fice. His last day was Satur­day.

The lieu­tenant who filed the com­plaint was re­turned to his job and given back pay. He had re­signed this year dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Gov. Larry Ho­gan, a Repub­li­can, is charged with re­plac­ing Fitzger­ald. Ho­gan is not bound to se­lect a Demo­crat for the po­si­tion.

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