Judge 'disappointed' in cops for after-hours 'sexy civil' courthouse photo shoot

The agency is investigating photos taken at the courthouse that included images of deputies and supervisors in various stages of undress on and off-duty

By Noelle Crombie
The Oregonian

OREGON CITY, Ore. — The presiding judge in Clackamas County Circuit Court said Tuesday that Sheriff's Office staff broke protocol by failing to notify him in advance of plans to use the courthouse for an after-hours photo shoot.

Judge Robert Herndon said he would have immediately rejected the idea.

The Sheriff's Office is investigating photos taken at the courthouse in Oregon City that included images of deputies and supervisors in various stages of undress on and off-duty. Those images were used to make a calendar for a retiring deputy, Steve Miller.

Herndon, who has served as a judge in Clackamas County for more than two decades, said Sheriff's Office employees frequently use the building after hours for training. The agency tells him in advance of its plans.

"The protocol wasn't followed on this," Herndon said. "They are supposed to let me know when they are doing that. I am disappointed in these guys."

The incident triggered an internal affairs inquiry and prompted the Sheriff's Office last week to place Capt. Dave O'Shaughnessy on paid leave.

Deputy Todd Shaw used his work email last month to invite 21 people in the agency's civil division to submit their own photos and join in a group photo at the courthouse on Sept. 23.

In addition to O'Shaughnessy, two other supervisors also received Shaw's email, which instructed participants to appear topless and wear green work pants and duty belts. Their photos would be destroyed after a single calendar was produced for Miller, the email states. The calendar would be titled "Sexy Civil."

The division provides courthouse security and is responsible for processing, serving and enforcing court orders and other court documents.

More than a dozen employees showed up at the courthouse for the shoot that Saturday, according to a source who is familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak on behalf of the Sheriff's Office.

The source said the calendar is made up of images taken that day and on other days and while employees were on and off-duty. They include a photo of an on-duty employee sitting on a courthouse toilet and another of a nearly nude employee sitting atop a desk in a secure area of the courthouse, the source said.

In another photo, two employees, both men, are engaged in a pose intended to mimic popular portraits that feature a man standing behind a pregnant woman with his arms around her waist. The image included a supervisor and was taken in his office while on duty, the source said.

A Sheriff's Office spokesman said Tuesday that as part of its investigation, the agency will review the video surveillance from the courthouse to determine what happened. As of Tuesday morning, he said the agency is still trying to determine who was involved and in the process of pulling footage from all of the courthouse cameras.

Herndon said Sheriff's Office staff who participated in the shoot didn't take photographs in judges' chambers or courtrooms. 

Herndon said he hasn't spoken with Sheriff Craig Roberts about what happened, but a couple of Sheriff's Office employees have apologized "about the embarrassment they brought to the building."

Herndon described the courthouse as a "special place for justice."

"When something like this happens in the walls of any courthouse, it demeans the importance of these buildings," he said.

Herndon said he understands that the employees wanted to do something memorable in honor of their retiring colleague and he doesn't think the incident should cost them their careers. They have a tough job and share a unique bond, he said.

"It just spiraled out of control," he said.

©2017 The Oregonian

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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