By Danielle Paquette
Tampa Bay Times
LAKELAND, Fla. — The police department sex scandal that landed Lakeland in national headlines has now claimed the jobs of four veteran officers implicated in the case, with two getting fired and two resigning this week.
Lakeland Police Sgts. Rusty Longaberger and David Woolverton were sacked Monday, and Lt. Albert Wilson and Officer George Vidal quit Tuesday. All the men were named in a state report revealing that up to 10 officers had sexual contact with a female crime analyst — some of which may not have been consensual — over the past seven years. The crime analyst, 37-year-old Sue Eberle, who has gone public with a story of prolonged abuse, is on paid leave.
Meanwhile, a separate department crisis could mean 40 drunk-driving cases can't be prosecuted. State Attorney Jerry Hill — who issued the report in the sex scandal — on Tuesday informed police Chief Lisa Womack that the head of her internal affairs investigations, Lt. Hans Lehman, is no longer a trustworthy witness. Hill said Lehman revealed confidential information to an officer whose own conduct was being investigated in connection with a DUI case.
"Is it the goal of the (internal affairs) unit to help us seek truth," Hill wrote, "or tip off officers under investigation before we are able to conclude our inquiry?"
Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields called the terminations appropriate. "I expect the chief to thoroughly move through the investigation so we fully uncover everything and the appropriate disciplinary action can be taken,'' he said Tuesday.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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